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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19549

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Report

Prescription Drug Pricing in the United States: Drug Companies Profit at the Expense of Older Americans
U.S. House of Representatives. 1999 Sep 11


Abstract:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Many senior citizens in the United States cannot afford the high prices of prescription
drugs. One of the principal causes of these high prices is price discrimination by drug
manufacturers. This report by the minority staff of the Committee on Government Reform
quantifies the extent of prescription drug price discrimination in the United States and its impacts
on seniors.
The report finds that older Americans and others who pay for their own drugs are charged
far more for their prescription drugs than are the drug companies’ most favored customers, such
as health maintenance organizations and the federal government. The report finds that a senior
citizen in the United States paying for his or her own prescription drugs must pay, on average,
more than twice as much for the drugs as the drug companies’ favored customers. And the report
finds that this is an unusually large price differential — more than six times greater than the
average price differential for other consumer goods.
In effect, the pricing strategies of drug manufacturer victimize those who are least able to
afford it. As a result of price discrimination, large corporate and governmental customers with
market power are able to buy their drugs at low prices while senior citizens, who often have the
greatest need and the least ability to pay, are forced to pay the highest prices for prescription
drugs.

 

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...to influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.