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Sunday

 

MS Drugs Are Just Too Damned Expensive
















































Your in-box probably lit up yesterday like mine did with the New York Times editorial about runaway drug prices. While we’ve all been talking about the price of disease-modifying drugs for MS, a new paper in Neurology speaks directly to the issue.

The Times editorial called out multiple sclerosis drugs as “of particular concern” when it comes to pricing. While many meds for MS are now decades old and several new (competitive) medications have entered the market, prices are still skyrocketing in the United States. In fact, American prices are two to three times what is charged to the healthcare industry in Canada, Australia, and the UK.

I received an advance copy of the press release about the Neurology paper from Oregon State University and was gobsmacked when I read not just the figures but the analysis.

No MS drug in the United States is priced at less than $50,000 per year.

That’s $50,000 per year.

MS drug prices are rising at a rate five to seven times the rate for other drugs, and the price of some MS drugs has gone up more than 700 percent since they were introduced.  Perhaps even more damning, according to the report, “Enormous, uncontrolled and rapidly increasing prices for some types of drugs may be linked to non-transparent drug pricing policies, a dysfunctional market and the lack of a national healthcare system to negotiate prices more aggressively and directly with pharmaceutical companies.”

Going on, I read, “The simplest explanation is that pharmaceutical companies raise prices of new and old MS disease-modifying therapies in the United States to increase profits, and our healthcare system puts no limits on these increases. The U.S. Medicare program, the largest single-payer healthcare system in the U.S., is legally prohibited from negotiating drug prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry.”

There’s some evidence that generic drug growth might slow rising drug prices in the United States, but the first MS generic multiple sclerosis drug was just approved, and wholesale pricing of that drug has not been announced.

As a person who stopped using disease-modifying medication partly due to the outrageous out-of-pocket cost, as an advocate for all of us living with this disease, and as a person who is looking back at my own country from across an ocean, I must wholeheartedly agree with the conclusion of the report’s authors: “It is time for neurologists to begin a national conversation about unsustainable and suffocating drug costs for people with MS – otherwise we are failing our patients and society.”

I don’t believe, however, that this is simply a fight our doctors must wage. This is our battle as well. We must encourage our patient advocacy organizations to stop taking donations from pharma, to consider divesting our personal investments from these companies, and to encourage new legislation to allow the government to negotiate for better pricing of pharmaceuticals.

I believe MS drugs work for some of us very well. I’m all for a company making a solid profit. I understand that it takes nearly $1 billion U.S. dollars to bring an MS drug to market. I also believe that enough is enough… and too much is just plain greedy.

Your thoughts?

Wishing you and your family the best of health.

Cheers,

Trevis

My new book, Chef Interrupted, is now available. Order your copy now on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and subscribe to Life With Multiple Sclerosis.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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