Advair sales plummet 30% as US insurance companies refuse to pay obscene prices

Hallelujah. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d praise an insurance company. But the proverbial Atlas just shrugged.

Insurance company pharmacy benefit managers, who have apparently had it with drug companies charging American consumers ridiculously high, and ever-increasing, prices for prescription drugs, are starting to say “enough.”

At the top of the list is my asthma drug, Advair.

Some big insurance company pharmacy benefits managers are simply no longer permitting their plans to cover Advair. Or at best, they’ve relegated Advair to the lower “third tier,” which means the patient has to pay so much of the price that they simply won’t buy the drug at all.

As a result, Advair sales plummeted 30% this year in the US.

GlaxoSmithKline charges Americans 5x what it charges Europeans for Advair

Advair’s parent company, GlaxoSmithKline, charges Americans five times the price it charges many Europeans for the same drug.

Yes, five times.

advairFor example, in France I bought a one month’s supply of Advair 100/50 last summer for around 38 euros, or around $52 dollars.  The same drug in the states will set you back $254, and that’s at Costco. You’ll pay more elsewhere.

Oh, and it gets even better. In the past few years, Advair’s parent company, GlaxoSmithKline, raised the price 30% in the US over the past few years, while they lowered the price 10% in France over the same time period.  So over the past 5 years, Advair went from being 3x as expensive in the US as it is in  Europe, to 5x as expensive.

And before you think that France is somehow subsidizing the purchase, they’re not. France simply negotiated with GlaxoSmithKline, and the company agreed to charge the French FIVE TIMES LESS THAN IT CHARGES AMERICANS.

Think about that for a moment. You’re paying five times the price for an obscenely expensive prescription drug because of your citizenship.

Oh but it’s worse than that, the NYT confirms that the reason Americans are paying so much is because the drug companies want us to make up the difference for the deal they give Europeans.

Many other countries control drug prices in some manner, so drug companies have become dependent on increasing prices in the United States to grow.

I was pretty ticked that under the new Obamacare plans, I’d still pay far too much for my Advair. But I’ve kind of had it with companies like GlaxoSmithKline, who are basically fleecing American consumers because of our citizenship, and so that they can subsidize Europeans. I love Europe, I may even retire in Europe, but it’s hard enough for me to pay my bills each month, let alone help some guy in Paris pay his as well.

Democrats and Republicans are both to blame

Our entire health care system is a mess. It’s bought by and owned by huge companies, like the drug companies.  And even under Obamacare, Congress refused to lift the laws that help drug companies maintain their obscene prices.  For example, did you know that it’s illegal for the Medicare program to negotiate prescription drug prices with Big Pharma?

Yes, they made it illegal for the United States government to practice capitalism and simply negotiate with drug companies to try to get a better deal.  And sadly, Obamacare did nothing to change it.  And it’s not just the Democrats’ fault — both parties are owned by Big Pharma and big healthcare.

Of course, it doesn’t help when the FDA posts Big Pharma false propaganda on the Web site.  Which brings us to another thing illegal under US law — bringing back more than a few month’s worth of drugs with you from Europe. Why?  Because the FDA says that no one knows if the drugs are even safe!

Yes, GlaxoSmithKline sells Advair for 1/5 the price in Paris, and if you try to bring that Advair home with you, and Customs finds it, it will be confiscated “for your own protection.” Because, apparently GlaxoSmithKline is such a dangerous company that we can’t trust the drugs they manufacture in Europe, but they’re such a great company that we can trust the drugs they manufacture in America, and pay five times the price for them!

The word “obscene” doesn’t begin to describe what GlaxoSmithKline, and far too many other pharmaceutical companies, are doing to American consumers.

So, while I’ve found that Advair is the drug that works best on my asthma, I’m willing to see the drug virtually banned in America. I hope GlaxoSmithKline goes down in flames.

Now a word about Symbicort and AstraZeneca

symbicort (1)One more thing. As you read the NYT article, don’t be fooled by the part that talks about how good GlaxoSmithKline’s competitor, AstraZeneca, is with its Advair competition drug Symbicort. And how insurance companies, and consumers, are flocking to Symbicort because it’s a more reasonably priced drug.

It’s not.

I’ve written about Symbicort before. They’re almost as bad as Glaxo.

For example, two years ago I went to a French pharmacy to buy some Symbicort, and it cost me 54 euros, or 66 dollars at the time.

Guess how much AstraZeneca was charging for Symbicort in America?

$233, or 3.5x the price of what AstraZeneca charges the French.

So, if American insurance companies are boycotting Advair, someone needs to ask them why they’re not boycotting Symbicort as well.

Our system is a colossal mess.

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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76 Responses to “Advair sales plummet 30% as US insurance companies refuse to pay obscene prices”

  1. m320753 says:

    It’s the first step to Socialism, which Canada has for it’s Medical fields. While you probably pay a lower price for Prescriptions, you also have a longer wait for non-emergency Surgical procedures. You can go anywhere you want , looking for a better deal, but you’ll never beat the system

  2. m320753 says:

    More than likely your Doctor has written No Substitution on your script. Ask him if you can take the Generic of your medication. Sometimes it’s an oversight on his part. But other times it’s because he/she wants you to take the name brand

  3. m320753 says:

    A rescue inhaler is never overpriced when you can’t breath. Thankfully I get my rescue inhalers from my PC, as my Pulminoligist is part of the hospital staff and hospitals no longer let him give out samples.
    I used to get my Advair, Asmanex and Spiriva from my MDs , but they were never enough to last very long, so after losing most of my teeth, I was switched to Nebulizer treatments that are covered 100 % by Medicare, as is my Oxygen. I took Advair 500/50 3x a day, Asmanex twice a day and Spiriva once a day, when I hit the Gap it would cost over $ 1,000 for a 90 day supply of all 3 of them. Now I take 3 doses of Ipratoprium Bromide/Albuteral Sulfate and 2 Doses of Budesonide by way of a Nebulizer and I feel 1,000 % better. in fact, my last Lung Function Test showed an improvement in my lung capacity and FEV-1 ! I’ll only use a dry inhaler when i have a COPD flare-up, while I’m waiting for the Ambulance to take me for my yearly ( so it seems) stay in the hospital

  4. m320753 says:

    If The Speaker of the House, or anybody in the House had read the plan in its entirety they might have caught that fact. But obviously doing nothing all day, pretty much takes up the day

  5. m320753 says:

    More and more Doctors are refusing to see new patients who are on Medicare, because of the money they give the Doctors for a simple office visit. Seniors need to have a Supplemental Insurance Plan that can pick up some of the difference between the Doctor’s Price for a visit and what Medicare actually pays, not what price they approve. Supplemental Plans can cost $500 per couple a month and more if you choose a good plan . Add to that what Medicare RX charges you, and you can easily fall into the Gap when you take very expensive Medicines as well

  6. m320753 says:

    Not only was Advair very Expensive 10 years ago, but it along with other inhalers I took caused such dry mouth the teeth actually started falling out of my mouth. I switched to Nebulizer Treatment and feel 100% better, no more thrush, and my mouth is not as dry. Medicare also pays 100% of my Nebulizer Medications

  7. Houndentenor says:

    Tom DeLay got legislation passed to prevent the kind of price negotiation that European countries do to reduce drug prices.

  8. cambridgemac says:

    A majority of Americans already live in that dystopian “future.” Look around.

  9. cambridgemac says:

    Wish I could uprate your comment 100x. Elite private universities (I attended one) are a classy way of undermining commitment to (and understanding of) the Common Good. It starts, however, with the belief that children in poor towns and cities don’t deserve the same ediucation as those born in affluent towns and cities.

  10. cambridgemac says:

    So, TPP is no departure. It’s the way Barry does bidness.

  11. cambridgemac says:

    “they hold down costs for us”

  12. Michael Roberts says:

    The same applies even to generics. In Budapest I can get my ramipril for $4 – at Walmart the same chemical would cost me $92. And that’s not a question of subsidizing the Europeans (which is an irritating way of putting it, as you’re actually just subsiding the CEO pay for GlaxoSmithKline, not French medicine – not France’s fault your country won’t negotiate for better prices), because it’s a generic.

    The American generic manufacturer of ramipril, by the way, funds Tea Partiers with that $92 ramipril.

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  14. I am surprised insurance companies don’t do this much much more. One of the selling points for insurance used to be they hold down costs for us.

  15. Ninong says:

    It’s true that President Obama did want to get rid of the ban preventing the government from negotiating for lower drug prices for Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration, but he gave that away to Big Pharma in exchange for their agreement to pretend to cooperate with meaningful healthcare reform. He was also pushing for a public option but he gave up on that idea incredibly easily. Maybe that was just a slogan and not a real promise?

    He used to be against the individual mandate but he finally came around to realizing that some sort of mandate was necessary any plan to work. Then he began backtracking and allowing all sorts of exemptions for business and making the penalties for individuals take forever to kick in.

    His biggest failure was his refusal to even consider an expanded Medicare-for-All version of healthcare — a Single-Payer Plan. That would have been so much easier to implement. We already have Medicare. It allows you to select any doctors who agree to accept Medicare. It is government controlled and that’s what the Republican opposed. It’s not as much government control as the French healthcare plan but it was still too much control for some people.

  16. JosephP says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that Obama instituted the price negotiation ban in the first place. My point is that Obama agreed to keep it as part of a secret deal with PhRMA, which he then tried to deny but eventually was forced to admit was true.

    I often think about the Washington Post “Salons” scandal, where the Post was covertly advertizing for industry reps to pay to meet with Administration officials at Post publisher Katharine Weymouth’s house for informal private talks about policy. This was a few months after Obama was first elected. We never learned who the Administration officials were who were slated to be part of the deal. But the scandal makes it obvious that, right from the start, Obama’s MO was to conduct public policy in secret, making back room deals with industry, while claiming in public that he was conducting the most transparent administration ever.

  17. Ninong says:

    Excellent article, John. We can’t talk enough about how our Congress is bought and paid for by Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Chem and Big Banks… because it’s TRUE! And the idiotic ‘custom’ in the Senate of requiring 60 votes to pass absolutely anything makes it impossible to overcome the influence of our Overlords.

    I had to use Advair for a few years about 10 years ago but I was fortunate enough to get a lot of free samples, thanks to some family members in the medical field. It was covered by my insurance plan but I had to pay a higher co-pay, so the freebies came in handy.

    I have been taking Coumadin (warfarin) for 25 years. When I was working, it was covered by my insurance with just a small co-pay. Later, during a period when I had to actually pay the full cost of my drugs, it cost me $68/month. Then the patent held by Dow Pharmaceuticals expired and the price dropped overnight to about $30/month. It continued to fall over the years to the point where Walmart now charges only $4/month for warfarin.

    Several years back I had the unpleasant experience of having to take both Lyrica and Tompmax together. They were covered by my insurance but my co-pay was $50/month for each (later raised to $65/month). Then in March of that first year, I hit the hated ‘donut-hole’ and the clerk at Walmart told me, “that will be $896, please.” Me: WTF happened?!!

    I told her to put them both back on the shelf and I called my doctor and told him I need him to call in prescriptions for something generic instead. So I switched to Gabapentin (brand: Neurontin) and Excarbazepine (brand: Trileptal) — my cost, $10/month each. The Lyrica and Topamax would have cost me $896/month!

    At one point I was tempted to order Topiramate, the generic for Topamax from either Canada or the British Virgin Islands because their Internet price for a 90-day supply was less than my total for 3x$50/mo co-pay. That was back when the US was the only country that had not yet approved Topiramate as an approved generic for Topamax. Sometimes I think the big pharmaceutical companies have something to do with why the US takes so long to approve generics compared to the rest of the civilized world.

    We could go on and on with war stories about prescription drugs and hospital charges because the older you get, the more you get hit over the head with the way the average American citizen is screwed by our elected representatives and their bosses, the big pharmaceutical companies and the big health care insurance companies.

  18. Jack Harney says:

    C’mon. Obama attempted to include the negotiation of drug prices in ACA, but lost that battle, and I’m sure you’re right, it was a result of his fellow Democrats siding with Republicans on that issue. What frosts me is that your article here brings the issue of how other countries do this routinely, and it’s not new information, but no one seems to want to grab this and run with it. Embarrass the hell out of Congress on it. Make it a deal breaking issue in upcoming elections…whatever.

  19. Actually, that’s a good point. Why even pretend that the drug companies are somehow getting shafted in Europe, when they’re probably still doing fine.

  20. Actually, both have been bought off by big Pharma – perhaps the GOP more, but during health care reform, Dem friends on the inside said that the problem was that both parties were bought off. Remember, it was Joe Lieberman and that jerk from Montana, Baucus, who caused a lot of the damage during that debate, though not all.

  21. There you go :)

  22. To be more precise, the administration agreed not to push to repeal the law that bans Medicare from negotiating prices. They didn’t come up with the ban, it was already there. But you are correct about their choice to keep it.

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  24. rmthunter says:

    Someone should tell the OneMillionMoms — I’m sure they’ll be writing letters like crazy.

  25. rmthunter says:

    It’s a given that we talk in generalities, but when we forget that those generalities are short-hand and not reality, we run into problems. “The Democrats” covers a lot of territory, from Ben Nelson (D-Mutual of Omaha) and Mary Landrieu (D-Big Oil) in the Senate to my rep, Jan Schakowsky, and the other real progressives in Congress.

    And the reality is that those progressives are in a tiny minority in the House — there’s a GOP majority in bare numbers, and enough “centrist,” corporate Democrats to neutralize anything the progressive Democrats try to do. And the Republicans are more prone to march in step than the Democrats, who tend to splinter at the slightest provocation. In make-up, the Senate is better, but completely dysfunctional.

    Add in a president who tends to start “negotiating” by giving the right everything it wants, and it’s a wonder ACA got through in any form. The remarkable thing is that the teabaggers, after — what is it now, 45 tries? haven’t managed to repeal it, for which we can thank the Senate — even the corporate Democrats there don’t want to touch that.

    No, ACA is not perfect — it’s not even close. Nor is Medicare Part D. They need fixing, but someone has to be willing, and have the votes, to fix them. That’s not going to happen as long as the GOP controls the House.

  26. benb says:

    Nicho is correct. Bush was the one who “protected” from all those dangerous prescription drugs from Canada back in 2003 and the GOP has filibustered any attempt to let Medicare negotiate it’s own drug deals.

  27. BeccaM says:

    Similar pricing in India, too. I remember when I was taking ambien for sleep (zolpidem as generic). A 30 day supply in the States was well over $100. In India? About $3 (10 cents a dose).

  28. richardgrabman says:

    Had to look up the price here in Mexico. Under a different name (Seretide), but 650 pesos for 60 doses. About 85 US cents each. That’s at a for-profit pharmacy, not through the IMSS clinics.

  29. Houndentenor says:

    Yes, of course. I’ll vote for Democrats (in the races where they bother to even run one where I live…oy!) but that doesn’t mean that I will give them a pass just because the Republicans are worse. Electing Democrats is only step one of getting anything done. Then we have to stay on their asses night and day to get them to do what they promised. Obama is just now working on signing the executive order he promised in 2008. Six years? Really? That’s pathetic. I’m not saying I wish I’d voted for McCain or Romney but really that’s sad that he knows he doesn’t have to follow through with us. Think any politician ignores the big donors the way they ignore the voters? In either party?

  30. hoplite_i says:

    Of course the Dems could do better. The question is could the GOP do worse. And the answer is yes, much worse.

  31. jomicur says:

    That’s pretty much what we have. Remember Boehner’s happy boast the Obama has given the GOP 94% of what they’ve wanted? Go on, cling to your damn silly 6% and have fun watching it dwindle.

  32. nicho says:

    The prohibition about negotiating with drug companies came from the Bush administration in 2003.

  33. Houndentenor says:

    See if you can find a way to purchase these meds overseas. Some asthma meds can be bought over the counter in Europe for a fraction of what they cost in the US. (I realize a plane ticket to Madrid negates the cost savings, but if you or someone you know is going anyway….)

  34. Houndentenor says:

    Stop with the false binary. The Democrats could do better. They run on a platform and then don’t bother fighting for it once they get elected. it’s infuriating. Obviously the Republicans would be worse, but we’re talking about degrees of worse. there are so many examples of things that Democrats didn’t even bother to fight for that could have gotten done in 2009-2010 when they had the majorities in both Houses. That opportunity is now lost and may be until at least 2022 thanks to Gerrymandering of House seats.

  35. Houndentenor says:

    Democrats? Or Elected officials who run for office as Democrats but are really bought and paid for by big donors? Those are two different things.

  36. Houndentenor says:

    You are right. I was flippant. This is a real problem. There’s no reason we should allow ourselves to be price-gouged this way. And on medicine of all things. Not everyone can do without their meds or switch to something else. I got tired of being overcharged for cable so I had it disconnected. I can do without it. I miss it sometimes but not enough to pay. Medicine is a different situation. And I don’t know why we treat it as any other business transaction when it’s discussed. The supply-demand model works quite differently when you need the product to stay alive.

  37. hoplite_i says:

    fine. Have the GOP then. Good luck with that.

  38. JosephP says:

    Commenters “lynchie” and “Naja pallida” below make important points that I would like to reiterate:

    The fact that the US cannot negotiate with drug companies over their prices is no accident. It was an intentional decision made by Obama himself, in secret, to sell out the American people in return for the PhRMA’s support of the ACA. Obama first lied about it, claiming that no such deal was made, until PhRMA head (and former Louisana congressman) Billy Tauzin went public, forcing Obama to admit it was true.

    This is just one secret part of the ACA that came to light. Almost certainly, there are other untold secrets (did Obama make a similar deal with AHIP to renege on the Public Option in return for their support?).

    Obamacare does result in more Americans being covered. But I think it is a terrible step in the wrong direction. It basically forces Americans to buy the (frequently lousy) products of private insurance companies, in return for promises from those same companies not to raise rates or drop coverage. What happens when the companies do those things anyway? Will Eric Holder step in and prosecute? I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

  39. Naja pallida says:

    Part of the problem is that Advair isn’t just a drug, but a combination of drugs and a delivery system. All of which has to be replicated to be effective. I don’t think their entire patent runs out until 2016, and generics manufacturers are saying they don’t expect to have an equivalent on the market until 2018 – no matter what the FDA does.

  40. GeorgeMokray says:

    I buy my generic Advair from Canada (Choice Pharmacy) and just happened to get my latest refill today. Got 180 doses of 250/50 fluticasone/salmeterol for $90 US plus $7.95 shipping and handling minus a coupon discount of $13.50 for a grand total of $84.45. For me, that’s a six month supply.

    Been using this method for years. I need to use rescue medication (albuterol – another overpriced drug story) maybe once or twice a year and I breathe fine even in hay fever season. Ain’t dead yet.

  41. jomicur says:

    No matter how furiously you want to spin it, the Democrats are an entrenched part of the status quo. And, in case you haven’t been paying attention, he status quo is NOT good. Arguing that one part of stasis and gridlock is better than another makes no sense.

  42. GarySFBCN says:

    I fully support a 100% ‘socialized’ health care system. That said, where I used to work, we got 40,000 formerly-uninsured people insured under ACA. They would disagree with you. And so do I.

    And it is laughable to blame Obamacare for making “health care a political hot potato that won’t be touched seriously for another generation”. As if there was any other possible outcome to this aspect of the healthcare discussion.

  43. Naja pallida says:

    Ex-whore. Lobbyists have lost all interested in speaking to him since he lost his primary. Now he’s just a powerless laughing stock until he actually leaves office, then he’ll be courted to become a lobbyist. But he has so many choices, since he whored to so many special interests. No single group enjoys rewarding abject failure more than the Republican party.

  44. hoplite_i says:

    So it’s single payer or you’re going to shoot the hostage. Got it.

    I guess the GOP will be happy about that. Hopefully for your sake there will another Ralph Nader Running. To bad for the rest of us it will deliver another 8 years of unfettered Republican rule.

  45. perljammer says:

    Advair has been around for long enough to wonder why a generic equivalent isn’t available. This, from Wikipedia:

    “Patent protection [for Advair] in the US expired in 2010, and European patent protection expired in 2013. However, the availability of a generic form of Advair in the United States may be significantly delayed because the Food and Drug Administration has not determined a standard for the bioequivalence of inhaled steroids in multi-dose inhalers or dry powder inhalers.”

  46. Naja pallida says:

    What is off the scale is pharmaceutical companies demanding a closed-door meeting with the President of the United States during the writing of the Affordable Care Act, and actually getting it. Then walking out of that meeting, that should never have taken place, with all of their demands met.

    The Affordable Care Act wasn’t a good first step, it was throwing the American people to the wolves, and making health care a political hot potato that won’t be touched seriously for another generation. Sure, more people are covered, by the private insurance industry that doesn’t care about their health care, only how much money they can make off of their suffering.

  47. koolaidyarn says:

    Sure, great. It doesn’t work for you specifically so it’s crap overall. It’s the only thing that keeps my mother able to breathe at all. She’s tried all the alternatives, and this is literally the one thing that works. Sure the manufactures are assholes, but personally, I like my mother being alive.

  48. Hue-Man says:

    Just phoned my pharmacist in B.C. DIN 02240835 100/50 60 doses CAD 98.90 (USD 92).

    The consensus seems to be that Canadians pay 30% too much for pharmaceuticals compared to non-US comparisons in Europe. Except for recent multi-province bargaining for some common generics, each province/territory negotiates its own price separately.

  49. hoplite_i says:

    The limp Dems are a problem, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, they’re all that stand between you and a truly dystopian future ruled by conservative ideology. I know it feels good to vent your disgust at the Dems for not being better, for calling out their flaws, etc, etc. Careful though – if you indulge that pleasure to often and to well you’ll buy yourself unfettered Republican rule. IMO it’s not a luxury we can afford ourselves in anything more than small amounts.

  50. hoplite_i says:

    We’ll have to strongly disagree about that. The GOP is off the scale…

  51. nicho says:

    I was in BCN with a friend who came down with a throat infection. We went into a pharmacy and got a course of antibiotics for 20 euros. In the US, that exact same drug would have been over $200 without insurance.

  52. nicho says:

    What I’ve noticed recently is that sports show ad spots previously used to promote ED drugs are now taken by incontinence products for men — Depends, etc. I keep wondering whether this is caused by the aging of the sports-watching demographic or something else.

  53. nicho says:

    Yeah, that’s probably why US doctors are fleeing north to Canada:

    TORONTO — With the prospect of greater pay, fewer bureaucratic headaches and the opportunity to provide better care for patients, the number of American doctors migrating north is rising, according to Canadian recruiters and Canadian Medical Association data.

    But I’m sure Fox News is all over this disturbing trend.

  54. nicho says:

    You’re right, but that’s not really the point. It’s that the insurance company has basically decided that I shouldn’t have a generic drug — at least not from them. As it was, they were paying a lot, lot less than the retail price — like about $6 or $7. But they just made a decision about my health care that should have been made by my doctor.

  55. lynchie says:

    Congress is bought and paid for. Obama handed the Pharma companies a bundle.

    The never proposed the one payer system and negotiated down from that. They started with a program which gives the health insurance companies 45 million new customers and got a few concessions.
    Dems are no better than the GOP

  56. lynchie says:

    If there is a Costco near you buy from their Pharmacy. I do, tell them I have no insurance and they charge $15 for generic and for me at least $20 for name brand. I never use Medicare to save money because as you point out it frankly doesn’t

  57. nicho says:

    There is a drug I take occasionally. However, when I need it, I really need it. It’s a generic. I used to pay $8 for it. Recently, my insurance company informed me that they were raising the co-pay to $45. They suggested I used Aleve instead (which I know doesn’t work). The real issue for me is that the retail price of the drug — without insurance — is $25. In other words, if I use the insurance to buy the drug, the insurance company will probably pay less than $25 — since they have a negotiated price — and will simply pocket the difference between that and the $45 they charge me. Screw the insurance companies.

    PS — I’m on Medicare. And I would like to bitch-slap all those people who gave us the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” claptrap when the Medicare Part D rip-off was proposed. “We can get something on the books now,” they said, ” and then fix it later.” (Kind of like the horseshit we heard from the Obama pom-pom girls over Ombamacare.) Medicare Part D has been on the books for over a decade now, still allowing Big Pharma and Big Insurance to rip off seniors — and no one has lifted a finger to fix it.

  58. GarySFBCN says:

    A family member purchases albuterol here in the US and they pay $75. I purchase something similar (Ventolin) for that family member in Spain and the cost is 3.02€ ($4.11).

  59. GarySFBCN says:

    Big pharma needs to be nationalized, with any profits going to “public” colleges and universities, allowing for free or low cost education for everyone.

    But then, colleges and universities need to be nationalized too.

  60. Houndentenor says:

    I used this product briefly and it’s crap. They overcharge for it? Why am I not surprised. Get your MD to look around for a better alternative. Perhaps one that doesn’t coat your vocal tract with icky powder.

  61. caphillprof says:

    Stop giving Democrats a pass. It’s not the Republicans, it’s the do nothing, no fight Democrats that are the problem.

  62. hoplite_i says:

    It seems like you’re saying the majority of Dems would NOT like to have the government be able to negotiate drug prices. I am sure this isn’t the case.

    In fact, there is no equivalency on healthcare between the two parties. Yes they both need to raise money from corporate America. Yes there are corrupt Dems. Yes the Dems are lame and weak and scared. But Democrats for the most part want to deliver affordable healthcare to people. Republicans in congress and on the USSC – almost to a person – are all and only about washing billionaires balls.

    The Dems just got millions of poor Americans subsidies to get insurance, just made it so they can’t deny you for a preexisting condition or drop you when you get sick, required the insurance companies spend at least 80% of our healthcare dollars on actual healthcare, and got it so young Americans can stay on their parents plans until they were 26. No it’s not a perfect plan. It”s not single payer or medicare for all. But it’s a hell of a lot more than the GOP wanted. In fact the Republicans fought it tooth and nail and if it were up to them all that would be gone tomorrow and if you can’t afford medical care you’re as good as dead. That’s the way it is in GOP world. There’s an ocean of difference between the two parties on this issue.

  63. jomicur says:

    A good part of the problem is the American consumer–the complacent, “if I can buy it it’s good and if it costs a lot it’s even better,” thoroughly housetrained American consumer. Americans line up eagerly to buy outrageously priced goods and services. Eagerly. I’ve had people tell me, in all seriousness, that if you pay more for the same product, the same exact product, then it’s better. When I’ve mentioned to people that Europeans pay substantially less for cable/phone/internet than we do, I’ve had more than one person respond with something on the order of, “Yeah–but it’s worth it.” Far too many Americans confuse the high price of a drug with its effectiveness, so they don’t squawk about shelling out for it.

    I know drugs are a different matter than something like cable, since in many cases we can’t live without them. Even so, if we’d all simply tell our doctors we demand prescriptions that are affordable, and if doctors would start prescribing accordingly, things would start to change. (I’ve had my pharmacist tell me that a lot of doctors simply refuse to prescribe the generic equivalents of some brand-name drugs.)

    Because, of course, doctors are part of the medical establishment, too–and therefore part of the problem. It should be illegal for drug company salesmen to wine and dine doctors, give them gifts, etc., etc., etc. As often as not, when your doctor prescribes some hot new drug, the only thing he really knows about it is what the drug company salesman tells him. In short, our medical system is corrupt down the middle of its bones, and that includes its customers, er, excuse me, “patients.”

  64. Indigo says:

    Yeah . . .

  65. Bill_Perdue says:

    It can overcharge because the WH and Congress have been successfully bribed by insurance companies for decades. Obamacare/Romenycare is the result of all that bribery and behind the scenes deal making.

    Healthcare in the US is the worst in the world. “The GuardianTuesday 17 June 2014 15.27
    EDT – Study by Washington-based foundation says healthcare provision in the US is the worst in the world. The NHS has been declared the world’s best healthcare system by an international panel of experts who rated its care superior to countries which spend far more on health.

    The same study also castigated healthcare provision in the US as the worst globally. Despite putting the most money into health, America denies care to many patients in need because they do not have health insurance and is also the poorest at saving the lives of people who fall ill, it found.

    “The United Kingdom ranks first overall, scoring highest on quality, access and efficiency,” the fund’s researchers conclude in their 30-page report. Their findings amount to a huge endorsement
    of the health service, especially as it spends the second-lowest amount on healthcare among the 11 – just £2,008 per head, less than half the £5,017 in the US. Only New Zealand, with £1,876, spent less.”

    It was controlled by insurance and pharmaceuticals before and after Obamacare/Romneycare and they’re making enough to bribe the WH and Congress no matter which of the twin parties of the rich get elected. Some of the largest health insurers are hitting all-time highs. … Shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH +0.74%), Humana (HUM +0.91%), Aetna (AET +0.94%) and WellPoint (WLP +1.73%) rallied Wednesday — with all four recording all-time highs in the wake of the Obama administration announcement that total enrollment in Affordable Care Act health exchange plans now tops 5 million. MSN Money March 20th, 2014–insurance-stocks-soar-on-obamacare-sign-ups and

  66. Elijah Shalis says:

    By doing simple math I can tell they are still making more than if they made the price the same. Evil but true. One of the drugs I am on costs $1,100 a month which seems outrageous.

  67. lynchie says:

    Ever notice that the erectile drugs are always on tv around supper time and again between 10:30 and 11:30. Better than a reminder on your smartphone, just Pfizer giving you a chance to get your head up.

  68. lynchie says:

    America #1. America #1. #1 in corruption and profiteering, so at least we have that going for us.

  69. Indigo says:

    Americans have the best health care system in the world. And the most affordable. Ask any Republican.

  70. bkmn says:

    ANY time your physician wants to begin medication always ask if there is a generic medication that can be tried first. Newer drugs are always available but it seems that within a few years of release the powers that be find that the newer drug may not be as effective/have more side effects than thought/have more drug interactions than known.

    You pay a ton for the new medications because they have to pay for marketing somehow.

  71. When Medicare Part D went into effect the Dick Cheney written legislation went in with a prohibition of the GOVERNMENT negotiating prices. This has to be changed. Oh, yeah, and go back to outlawing the general advertizing of prescription drugs. If you have vaginal dryness or a limp dick, it’s between you and your doctor.

  72. Baal says:

    You could try using two separate inhalers instead of one. Fluticasone by itself is cheap.

  73. heimaey says:

    I think John is actually on to something. We are not so much subsidizing them as we are making it easier for them to take a “hit” elsewhere.

  74. intoxination says:

    But negotiating for lower prices actually raises them! At least that is what big pharma’s whore on the hill, Eric Cantor, always told us.

  75. disqusux says:

    John, please unburden yourself of the notion that you are somehow subsidizing Europeans or anyone else – if there were no profit in selling to the French then you can be sure GSK would not be selling Advair into France. Americans are being ripped off because they CAN be.

  76. rmthunter says:

    Fortunately for me, my plan covers Advair, but I agree with you about the ridiculous price. Strangely enough, my “emergency inhaler,” Proventil (albuterol), costs me more than Advair, even though its full price is only $75. I pay about $60 for that, versus $45 for Advair. (That is, until I hit the donut hole, which itself is a scandal.)

    Unfortunately for us (meaning everyone who’s not worth a few million, at least), corporations own everything, including Congress and the White House. (Not to forget the Supreme Court, LLC.) And until we, the people, come up with a way to counter that, that’s the way it’s going to be.

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