Granny Bird Award: Pharmacies and Pharmaceutical Companies
Today's Granny Bird Award, given from time to time to those who go out of their way to rip off elders or harm their rights, goes to pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies who play games with the cost of generic drugs.
From a David Lazarus column in the Los Angeles Times:
Diane Shattuck filled a prescription in December for a generic antibiotic called doxycycline. With insurance, she paid $4.30 for 60 pills at a CVS store in Orange.
She returned at the end of February to refill her prescription. This time, she was told her cost for the drug would be about $165.
"It was bizarre," Shattuck, 73, told me. "And no one at CVS could explain why the price was so high."
Unfortunately, I won't be able to offer a clear-cut answer, either. But my effort to untangle Shattuck's situation cast a harsh light on the shadowy world of drug pricing.
It revealed that different manufacturers can charge wildly different prices for what is essentially the same generic medicine, and that drugstores can rake in unconscionable profits by passing along marked-up meds to customers without the slightest explanation. ...
A CVS pharmacist in Los Angeles, who asked that his name by withheld because of fear of retaliation by the company, shared with me the average wholesale price of different makers' doxycycline, as made available to pharmacists by the McKesson Connect online ordering system.
The system shows that the average wholesale price of 100 doxycycline pills made by Watson with a strength of 100 milligrams is $328.20. The same number of doxycycline pills at the same strength made by Mylan cost $1,314.83.
But the average wholesale price, or AWP, as it's known in the industry, may have little, if any, correlation with what a drugstore charges customers.
"The AWP prices are as made up as the prices that come out of hospitals," said USC's McCombs. "It's not the price that CVS or other drugstores pay."
In other words, drugstores negotiate their own prices with manufacturers of generic drugs, as do the pharmacy benefit managers who often serve as intermediaries in wholesale drug transactions. They may be able to cut sweetheart deals based on the volume of medicine they can move to retail customers. [Emphasis added]
In other words, elders continue to be targeted by the pharmaceutical companies and the pharmacies with these slimy practices. Instead of cutting Medicare benefits to the recipients, maybe CMS needs to start busting chops of providers, yes?