Our last post highlighted the end-of-the-month release of the long-awaited generic version of Lipitor, the most popular cholesterol-lowering drug in America. Brand-name Lipitor, manufactured by drug giant Pfizer, has been one of the key contributors to American’s high drug bills for the past 15 years. A generic version will mean massive savings for some and basic affordability for many.
Last week, however, the New York Times shared that Pfizer (unsurprisingly) wants to block access to that affordable generic. Pfizer is going to offer “large discounts for benefit managers that block the use of generic versions of Lipitor” – “When patients submit a prescription for a generic version of Lipitor, they are to be given Lipitor instead.” So, those covered by the benefit managers who accept the discount will end up paying the same high co-pay, despite the availability of a lower priced drug!
These tactics by the largest drug manufacturer to keep drug prices higher are disappointing but not surprising. After all, in addition to lobbying the U.S. government to prevent safe personal drug importation, it funds programs to scare Americans away from buying its own medication at a lower price from Canada and other countries.
Pfizer’s latest move seems to only affect Americans with health insurance who, under the Pfizer/benefit manager deal, would pay $25 monthly co-pays (instead of $10 per month) – that’s $75 for a three month supply. That’s a stark contrast to Americans without health insurance who can pay $535.00 at a local CVS in New York City. By comparing prices of verified online pharmacies at PharmacyChecker.com, the uninsured may at least knock their monthly brand name Lipitor costs to $85.70.
Fortunately, due to the economics of generic drug competition, generic Lipitor prices will eventually offer great savings to the uninsured and we’ll be keeping you updated as those new products come to market.
Tagged with: brand-name, Cholesterol, co-pays, CVS, generic drugs, health insurance, insured, Lipitor, New York City, New York Times, PBM, Pfizer, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacychecker.com, uninsured, United States
In the State of the Union speech last night, President Obama highlighted prescription savings benefits in his otherwise brief coverage of new healthcare reform. As we’ve previously reported, and President Obama was clear to state, those prescription savings will go mostly to our nation’s seniors who are enrolled in Medicare. Beginning last September, many of America’s seniors received $250 rebate checks for prescription drug costs, a small step toward affordable healthcare. Better yet, starting this year, the coverage gap will narrow, with enrollees receiving a 50% discount on brand name drugs, and by 2020, a 75% discount. While the “doughnut hole” will not fully be closed, the savings will mean that far fewer Medicare enrollees will face exorbitant brand name drug prices out of pocket. (more…)
Tagged with: 50-64, brand name drugs, discount, doughnut hole, health insurance, Medicare, personal drug importation, prescription drugs, President Obama, rebate, seniors, State of The Union, uninsured
The Obama administration is taking actions to address the illegal sale of counterfeit prescription drugs online. These efforts can benefit patients who could fall victim to rogue online pharmacies, but may also limit access to safe and affordable medication provided by non-U.S. international online pharmacies, many based in Canada. Millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans have purchased prescription drugs through, and relied on, such websites to afford medicine.
Last Monday, the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), Victoria Espinel, stated that her office was in discussions with Google, Go Daddy, American Express, and Microsoft about cracking down on online pharmacies, and that an announcement about IPEC’s plans moving forward will be made within weeks. This statement seems to be a follow-up to a late-September meeting held by IPEC, which brought together domain registrars and registries to discuss voluntary protocols to combat the sale of non-controlled counterfeit medication online. As we reported, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) notably declined its invitation to attend this meeting, and at least one of its attendees, Go Daddy general counsel Christine Jones, as reported on Domain Incite, communicated that intellectual property protection was not discussed and voluntary protocols were not agreed to. Jones also shared her understanding that an “FDA solution” might be used to combat counterfeit drugs being sold online. Espinel’s statement last week suggests the same. (more…)
Tagged with: Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, American Express, drugs from canada, FDA, GoDaddy, Google, I-Save RX, ICANN, intellectual property rights, Interpol, IPEC, Joseph Biden, Katheleen Sebelius, Margaret Hamburg, Microsoft, Obama Administration, Online Pharmacies, Pfizer, public health, Public Library of Science One, Rahm Immanuel, rogue pharmacies, under-insured, uninsured, United States