Fourteen drug manufacturers across the US have been grilled by members of Congress over the price hikes of over-the-counter drugs in the past 18 months, and some senators came up with the picture that common greed in the pharmaceutical industry is causing the drug manufacturers to constantly increase the price of generic drugs without restraints.

According to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, “Drug companies have seen the opportunity to make a whole lot of money and they are seizing that opportunity. This is greed at work in the pharmaceutical industry”.

The senators came to this conclusion when preliminary investigations reveal that the average prices of over 1,200 OTC drugs increased by more than 400% between July 2013 and July 2014. And this trend has resulted into one expected effect: most Americans that need prescription drugs to deal with medical health conditions can’t afford it anymore; in fact, one in four Americans can’t buy these drugs anymore.

While a list of over 1,200 generic drugs indicate that their prices have gone up beyond reasonable reasons within the past 18 months, specific examples show that two tablets of albuterol sulfate in October 2013 cost $11, but it is now priced at $434 – and this is an essential drug for asthmatic patients. A bottle of the antibiotic drug doxycycline hyclate was sold for $20 in October 2013, but now sells for $1,849.

Since this drug price hike is attracting wide national concerns, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday started an investigation into this problem, and the Senate subcommittee on primary health and aging had called in a hearing on the matter the same day.

2 Responses

  1. Josh Weinstein

    Why invest time and money finding new drugs that will help people when you can just raise the prices of the drugs you already own? I’m sure the pharmaceutical industry has people working to spin this information, but they have been gouging people for years here in the USA. It is the only explanation for why a drug treatment that costs $900 per year in Egypt costs $50,000 here in the USA. The worst part of it is their new talking point that drugs should not be priced based on research and manufacturing costs, but on the value they provide to the patient. In other words, your money or your life!

    I am all for the free market, but the free market does not always work. In this case, there are far too few companies making these drugs. Then, they have had laws passed to make it illegal to buy the drugs from another country – allegedly for safety concerns, but in reality because they don’t want the cheaper drugs here. Are you telling me that an Abbot manufacturing plant in Canada is unsafe?

    Allow companies to import these drugs, brand name or not, patented or not, into the US. That is NOT patent infringement. The same company is manufacturing or licensing these drugs, they are just pricing them differently. They are not counterfeit.

    Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers are a BIG PART of the reason that healthcare is so expensive here in the US. We will NEVER be able to get the cost of healthcare under control if we allow these companies to set prices at whatever they think they can get away with charging. The recent cost increases cited in the article are a perfect example of this and the reason that pills that cost $20 two years ago now cost $1800. How on earth can that be justified as reasonable and fair?

  2. UncleNine

    Just another set of examples of why, in a marketplace in which “insurance” is involved much more regulation is needed, more inspection is needed, more oversight is needed. In addition, the tiny resources given to the Customs Services and the FDA in this area assure that many of the Chinese and Indian and Mexican “generics” that are imported are not only vastly overpriced, but most assuredly phoney as well.

    The “invisible hand of the marketplace” just doesn’t work here. Politicians should admit this and move forward. No arguments.


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