Prescription medication prices soar, leaving patients short

U.S. price regulations in the for pharmaceuticals.

PHOENIX - The recent outcry over the drastic price hike of the EpiPen has brought attention to several other medications that have seen an extraordinary increase in cost that severely limits the patients who can gain access.

"It’s really saddening to look at their faces," said Dr. Andrew Carroll, a family medicine doctor with the Renaissance Medical Group in Chandler. "They know what they’re supposed to do. They know they need the medications and they can’t afford it." 

Carroll has been practicing medicine for over 20 years and has watched the price tag for certain prescription medications continue to rise for his patients.

"They’re forced to make choices that they should not have to make," Carroll said. "We should be providing a robust health care system for these people."

A bottle of epinephrine costs Carroll about a dollar, but it's a $600 price tag for patients using the EpiPen that contains the same drug, but is packaged inside an injector.

"In the United States, there are no price regulations for pharmaceuticals," said Daniel Malone, a professor with the University of Arizona's College of Pharmacy. "They’re able to request a price however they choose."

The sky-high prices can be attributed to several different factors, according to Malone. Some manufacturers claim the research behind the drugs is extremely costly and the money also must cover the trials that do make it to the market.

In the case of the EpiPen, Malone explains that's a case of one company being the sole maker of the product, which means there is no fight for the consumer's dollar and the price can be set freely by the maker. 

If there is a generic producer of the drugs, strict quality-control standards can prohibit some drugmakers from being able to sell their products to the consumer.

Malone said the FDA claims there is an extreme backlog of applications for generic makers to be approved to make cheaper versions of certain drugs, and they lack the manpower to be able to look through those applications.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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