Although Generic Drugs have been considered a cheap alternative to brand drugs, the recent price increase has triggered a Senate investigation.
Several low-price drug manufactures were questioned by members of the Congress in October, about the changes that have happened in the last 18 months, in terms of price. The Congress meeting happened as a result of several price complaints from long patients as well as pharmacists and physicians.
Some of the low-cost generic drugs’ prices have risen with up to 8,000%. The huge increase was investigated at a Senate hearing, on Thursday. It was reported that three pharmaceutical companies refused to take part at the hearing.
Although there are many forces that influence prices, like drug ingredient shortages, production slowdowns or industry consolidation, experts have yet to investigate if the price change of generic drugs can be backed up or not.
The leaders of the ongoing investigation are Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders and Maryland Rep, Elijah Cummings.
Records revealed that the average price for more than 1,200 low cost generic drugs rose by 400 percent over a period of one year (from July 2013 to July 2014), as according to Sanders’ statement. If we turn the percentages into more understandable figures, the drugs have become unaffordable for one in four Americans.
One example of a generic drug that has suffered a huge price increase is Albuterol Sulfate, a drug needed by asthma patients. The drug used to be commercialized at the price of $11 for two tablets last year. Now, the drug is currently being sold at the price of $434 for the same two tablets. Another example is Doxycycline Hyclate, an antibiotic sold in bottles. People used to be able to buy at the price of $20 in October 2013. The same bottle costs now nearly $1,849.
Senator Bernie Sanders underlined the exact problem in one of his statements, declaring:
“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”.
Given the fact that the investigation is still going, no one can assure the patients if the prices will lower or at least stop increasing. The price increases were determined by the Healthcare Supply Chain Association.