Letter: drug prices

Finally, a federal study of drug costs ordered by President Clinton.

A look at different prices for people with and without insurance. The

president said, "that a popular drug cost $44 for 60 pills in Canada,

but $102 in New Hampshire. It's wrong and we have to deal with it."


Of course the pharmaceutical companies are horrified at the thought

of anyone investigating their pricing. They are firm believers in

letting the market decide. If you don't like the price, don't buy. The

fact that the medication may be needed to stay alive should not

influence your decision. They cry that price caps would deter them from

Research & Development of new drugs. There is a report that one company

had, in 1997, $9.3 billion in retained earnings after $1.9 billion in

R&D. Another company had $5.6 billion in retained earnings after $850

million was spent in R&D. This besides the $3 billion in grants to

companies by the National Institute of Health.

I've been tracking the prices of some of my prescriptions. Here's a beaut. A daily pill, since 1996, went from $34.50 for 30 tablets to $50 today. That's $15.50/month increase, or $186/year. If only 10,000 people use this medication, the company has increased its earnings $l.8 Million. This is for a common drug. It wouldn't surprise me if there are over 1 million people using it. You do the math. This over and above their original profits on the medication.

Len Gostin

Carson City


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