I was prescribed a tube of cream for some white spots on my shin. “It’s expensive,” my new dermatologist cautioned, unaware of My Vast Fortune. “If your insurance doesn’t cover it or it’s too much at Publix, you might want to call this place and fax them the prescription instead.” She wrote down the info.
There was a much cheaper version, she told me, but this one seemed to have fewer side effects and so is priced higher.
I am so lucky not to have to worry about these things! I have Medicare! I have an American Express card! And it’s just a little tube of cream.
But, no, the Publix pharmacist told me, Medicare doesn’t cover it — “No problem,” I bragged, proferring my Amex — and it costs $1,595.
I pulled my card back so fast I dislocated my elbow. Well, not that hard — but $1,595? For a little tube of cream? I tried Walgreens — $2,200. I tried the phone number the place she had given me — $75. I went with that one.* It arrived a few days later, I applied it for a month, the white spots are mostly gone, and no discernable side effects.
But how nuts is this? The whole drug pricing system is crazy, and getting worse — “For drug companies, price hikes offer an easy way to boost sales without years of costly, risky research to find new medicines,” reports the Wall Street Journal — and I was thus heartened to see Congressional Democrats and the Admnistration beginning to do something about it.
(One of the criticisms of Obamacare was that, in order to secure passage, Big Pharma was given a pass on drug prices. But not, of course, forever.)
First I saw this piece: “Generic Drug Price Sticker Shock Prompts Probe by Congress.”
. . . The prices of more than 1,200 generic medications increased an average of 448 percent between July 2013 and July 2014, [Senator Bernie] Sanders said during the hearing, citing federal records. . . .
And then this in yesterday’s New York Times:
Runaway Drug Prices