Pharmaceutical Corruption Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption Media Articles in Major Media
Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
The latest poster child for cruel and inhuman drug pricing is Kaleo Pharma, maker of an emergency injector for a med called naloxone, which is used as an antidote to save the lives of people who overdose on painkillers. As America’s opioid crisis reaches epidemic levels, Kaleo has jacked up the list price for its Evzio auto-injector by 600%, soaring from $690 several years ago to $4,500, according to lawmakers. Nearly three dozen senators wrote to Kaleo’s chief executive, Spencer Williamson, last week to say they were “deeply concerned” about the price hike and to note that it “threatens to price out families and communities that depend on naloxone to save lives." But that’s not what caught my attention. Rather, I was struck by the company’s answers to me about lawmakers’ concerns. In response to emailed questions, Williamson said that although the list price for Evzio is more than $4,000, that’s “not a true net price to anyone … due to numerous discounts and rebates that are negotiated in the supply chain that make up our healthcare system.” In other words, even though the price tag for his company’s easy-to-use, lifesaving device is ridiculous and indefensible, there’s no need to worry because backroom deals by assorted players in the healthcare food chain make that price tag meaningless. And that, in a nutshell, illustrates the lunacy of the U.S. healthcare system.
It was Tuesday morning. The new president was about to go into a meeting with chief executives from Johnson & Johnson, Merck and a handful of other major pharma companies. During his campaign, he often said that if he were elected, the federal government would start negotiating with the drug companies over the prices Medicare and Medicaid had to pay for drugs -- something it's now prevented from doing by statute. Pharma companies were "getting away with murder," he said on Jan. 10. A few weeks later, he claimed that the government would save $300 billion if it could negotiate prices. "We don't do it," he said. "Why? Because of the drug companies." "We have to get prices down," he says at the beginning of the meeting with cameras rolling. "We have no choice." Then the doors were closed. When they opened again, Trump had not only abandoned his promise to use the government's bargaining power to bring down drug prices, he was now totally against it! "I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market," he said. "That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening." He accused an agency that has no power to negotiate prices of "price-fixing." And so it was that after one meeting with pharma CEOs, Trump was turned around on his one good idea and embraced instead yet another nonsensical one.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
As a social worker, Susannah Rose referred clients with cancer to patient advocacy groups she trusted to dispense unbiased advice - until she heard the groups might be taking money from pharmaceutical companies. So she set out to investigate. Two-thirds of patient advocacy organizations reported receiving industry funding, Rose, now a bioethicist, finds in a new study. Her research was published ... in JAMA Internal Medicine along with other studies showing a host of ways pharmaceutical manufacturers appear to pay for influence. Rose and her colleagues identified 7,865 patient advocacy organizations in the U.S., most involving cancer and rare or genetic disorders. They surveyed a random sample of the organization's leaders. More than 67 percent of 245 patient advocacy groups reported receiving industry funding in the past year. Of those, nearly 12 percent reported that more than half their funding came from industry. When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in an effort to curtail a growing epidemic of abuse of the painkillers in 2015, nonprofit organizations stepped in to challenge the effort. The CDC postponed releasing the guidelines and solicited public comments for 30 days. Opioid manufacturers gave money to 45 of 158 patient advocacy and professional organizations that commented on the proposed guidelines. Organizations with funding from opioid manufacturers were significantly more likely to oppose them, researchers found.
Note: It's interesting to note that apparently no other major media picked up this Reuters article. Drug company executives have recently been caught bribing doctors to over-prescribe opioids, and ex-DEA official has publicly accused Congress of helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Morphine is an opioid pain medication which can have severe adverse effects. These include drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, tired feeling, anxiety and mild itching. Other risks associated with morphine use include misuse, abuse and addiction. In addition, scientific research has shown that prescription opioids may actually worsen chronic pain. It appears that a holistic alternative to treating pain is much-needed in order to mitigate the dangers of conventional pharmaceutical pain treatment. Now, a groundbreaking study shows that acupuncture is one of these effective holistic alternatives. Considering the study results, it may perhaps be even more effective than morphine. The [new] research evaluated 300 emergency patients. 150 were administered up to 15 mg of morphine per day. The other 150 were given acupuncture treatment. The acupuncture group in the study experienced significant pain reduction, and the effect occurred faster and with fewer side effects when compared to the morphine group. In 1996, acupuncture became an accepted form of medical treatment endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO based their endorsement on data from numerous controlled clinical trials conducted over the two previous decades. Undoubtedly, acupuncture can play a powerful role in pain management. It is an effective drug-free alternative to reducing pain with very few side effects that has been proven over the ages.
Note: Why wasn't this important study reported in the major media? Could it be that big Pharma has bought out the media with their billions in advertising dollars such that they won't report on discoveries that eat into their profits? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical corruption from reliable major media sources.
Pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder," President-elect Donald Trump said during his Wednesday press conference. After Trump mentioned drug prices and pharmaceutical companies' tax inversions, the nine biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap on the S&P 500 shed roughly $24.6 billion in 20 minutes. The SPDR S&P Biotech exchange-traded fund, which tracks pharmaceutical stocks, fell nearly 4% in that time, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 3% in the same period. Granted, the loss in market cap for big pharma is small relative to companies' overall market cap - a 3% decrease from their combined $906.8 billion before Trump's speech. For the most part, pharmaceutical executives were relieved when Trump won the election. That's because Hillary Clinton, the one-time Democratic presidential nominee, heavily criticized drug companies on the campaign trail. Big pharmaceutical executives hoped that Trump would not come down as hard on their industry. Even now, it seems investors aren't all that worried about Trump's press conference criticisms: The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF is still up nearly 9% since election day. Merck's stock has managed to stay in the green despite losses during Trump's speech, thanks to news that the Food and Drug Administration had decided to speed up the review of a one of its lung-cancer treatments.
Note: Yet less than a month later, Trump completely changed his tune to support big Pharma, as shown in this Chicago Tribune article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation's swine, cattle and poultry. According to the latest figures, released this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine. The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections. But the FDA finds a glimmer of good news in the latest figures, pointing out that the rate of increase has slowed. In the previous year, antibiotic use had increased by 4 percent, and a total of 22 percent from 2009 to 2014.
A wide-ranging investigation into generic drug prices took its most significant turn yet on Thursday, as state attorneys general accused two industry leaders, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan, and four smaller companies of engaging in brazen price-fixing schemes - and promised that more charges were coming. A civil complaint filed by 20 states accuses the companies of conspiring to artificially inflate prices on an antibiotic and a diabetes drug, with executives coordinating through informal industry gatherings and personal calls and text messages. Officials said the case was a small example of broader problems in the drug business. “We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” George C. Jepsen, Connecticut’s attorney general, whose office started the inquiry that led to the charges, said. “I stress that our investigation is continuing, and it goes way beyond the two drugs in this lawsuit, and it involves many more companies than are in this lawsuit.” The complaint on Thursday describes a cozy industry culture defined by regular dinners and social outings, and argues that those events often cross the line to violate antitrust rules. Generic drug makers hoping to begin selling a new drug first seek out rivals, the suit says, in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to maintain market share and avoid competing on price. “These agreements had the effect of artificially maintaining high prices for a large number of generic drugs and creating an appearance of competition when in fact none existed,” the lawsuit says.
Note: A separate anti-trust investigation into Mylan was recently launched in New York over price-fixing on public school EpiPen contracts. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
FBI agents arrested former Insys Therapeutics CEO Michael Babich and five other former company executives on Thursday for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe an extremely addictive opioid painkiller to patients who didn’t need it. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the executives took part in a “nationwide conspiracy” to give healthcare providers kickbacks in exchange for the improper prescribing of Subsys - an opioid medication containing the highly addictive substance fentanyl, which is considered even more dangerous than painkillers like Vicodin. Subsys is meant to provide pain relief to cancer patients who are going through particularly excruciating pain episodes. It’s reserved for these neediest of patients due to its potency and addictive qualities. But federal prosecutors allege that Babich and his co-conspirators doled out kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug even to non-cancer patients, and even set up a special “reimbursement unit” to sway insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers to provide coverage for these non-authorized uses. The charges range from racketeering to conspiracy to mail and wire fraud. The FBI’s actions come in the wake of a newly invigorated federal effort to tackle the prescription painkiller epidemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 165,000 Americans since 1999.
Note: These charges come on the heels of an ex-DEA official's public accusation that Congress has been helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. How many deaths and ruined lives are being caused by greedy executives and the politicians in their pockets? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is rushing to finalize a new healthcare law that would overhaul the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill, called the 21st Century Cures Act, is also a huge win for lobbyists: 1,455 lobbyists, working on behalf of 400 different healthcare companies, medical device makers and research institutions weighed in on the 900 pages of regulatory tweaks and research grants. Originally conceived as a bill to boost research ... pro-industry groups have used the bill as a vehicle to achieve their long standing legislative agenda. It effectively makes it easier for drug companies and medical device manufacturers to get FDA approval for their products without demonstrating that consumer safety has been taken into account. Consumer advocates are particularly concerned with several provisions that make it much easier for pharmaceutical companies to bypass stringent testing requirements to market and sell drugs for multiple uses. Currently, if a company wanted to sell a drug to treat more than one ailment, it must conduct randomized scientific trials showing the product does indeed work for each separate illness it's marketed for. The 21st Century Cures Act lowers that threshold. The bill also frees pharmaceutical companies to work with insurance companies to promote off-label uses for their drugs and creates a new category of ... medical devices which qualify for expedited regulatory approval. The lawmakers who introduced the measure are bankrolled by the healthcare industry.
Essential medicines could be provided for as little as $1-$2 US a month per person in developing countries, experts said on Monday as they called on governments to boost efforts to ensure everyone can access basic healthcare. Although global spending on medicines is about eight times this amount, one in five countries spends less than $1 per month per person, according to the first analysis of the cost of providing key drugs by The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines. The commission, comprising 21 international experts, said lack of access to affordable, quality medicines was threatening progress towards universal health coverage. The list of essential medicines contains 201 drugs needed for a basic healthcare system. The commission estimated the cost of providing essential medicines to the populations of low- and middle-income countries to be between $77 billion and $152 billion a year. It said 41 countries were spending less than $1 per person per month on medicines while global spending on medicines in 2017 was predicted to be $1.2 trillion. The experts said "massive inequities and inefficiencies" in financing and governance were restricting access to drugs for many people. They said persistent problems with the quality and safety of medicines in many low- and middle-income countries must also be addressed with better regulation, [and] called for urgent reforms in the way essential drugs are developed and patented to improve affordability and access.
A former top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official has accused Congress of putting pharmaceutical company profits ahead of public health in the battle to combat the US’s prescription opioid epidemic. Joseph Rannazzisi, head of the DEA office responsible for preventing prescription medicine abuse until last year, said drug companies and their lobbyists have a “stranglehold” on Congress to protect a $9bn a year trade in opioid painkillers claiming the lives of nearly 19,000 people a year. Rannazzisi ... said the drug industry engineered recent legislation limiting the DEA’s powers to act against pharmacies endangering lives by dispensing disproportionately large numbers of opioids. He also accused lobbyists ... of whipping up opposition to new guidelines for doctors intended to reduce the prescribing of the painkillers. Charges that Congress is too beholden to pharmaceutical companies have been levelled for years. But ... the influence on opioid policies is particularly disturbing because so many lives are being lost. Industry groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying to stave off measures to reduce prescriptions and therefore sales of opioid painkillers. Among the most influential drug industry groups is the Pain Care Forum, co-founded by a top executive of Purdue Pharma – the manufacturer of the opioid which unleashed the addiction epidemic, OxyContin. It spent $740m lobbying Congress and state legislatures over the past decade.
Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids' migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens. It's the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults' migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month's time. Both drugs worked that well - but so did placebo sugar pills. The results "really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists," said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement," said Dr. Leon Epstein, neurology chief at Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children's Hospital of Chicago. The only government-approved migraine medication for kids is topiramate. Side effects from the drugs [included] fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. Kids on topiramate also had tingling sensations in their hands, arms, legs or feet. There was one suicide attempt in the topiramate group, another known side-effect of that drug. The side effects were not unexpected, but given the risks, the results suggest the drugs shouldn't be "first-line prevention treatments" for kids' migraines, Powers said.
Note: This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For more, see this mercola.com article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
The world cannot rely solely on free markets to deliver medicines needed by billions of people in poor countries, so governments should commit to a legally binding convention to coordinate and fund research and development. That's the conclusion of a major United Nations report. The high-level panel was set up last year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to find solutions to the "policy incoherence" between the rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health needs. The final report ... calls for a de-linkage of R&D costs and drug prices — at least in areas where the system is failing, such as tropical diseases and the hunt for new antibiotics against "superbug" resistant bacteria. The report attacks the "implicit threats" it says are sometimes used by Western governments and companies to stop poorer countries from exercising their right to over-ride drug patents under World Trade Organization rules. That may not go down well in Washington, given the United States' long-standing defence of the international intellectual property system, which has governed world trade for more than two decades. The panel also calls for greater transparency on the true cost of developing a new drug, citing estimates of anything between $150 million US and $4 billion US per medicine. And it wants disclosure on the real prices paid by insurers and governments for drugs, after discounts. The UN panel consisted of representatives from government, academia, health activism and industry.
Note: Big Pharma has long lobbied for protection of its rights to huge profits from new medicines and kept secret its costs for R&D by refusing to separate these costs from marketing costs. For lots more, read a profoundly revealing essay by the former head of one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and income inequality.
Using the playbook of Mylan, Turing and, well, their own company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals has hiked the price of yet another life-saving treatment to astronomical values. This time, it’s calcium EDTA, a lead poisoning treatment that cost US hospitals and poison control centers about $500 for a packet of six ampules (6 grams) before 2012, when Valeant acquired the drug. Poison control experts now say that US centers pay about $5000 per gram for the drug, compared to $15 per gram for Canadians. In a 6-year period ... Valeant increased the US price of the drug by as much as 7200%. Two physicians - Michael Kosnett from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Timur Durrani at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - expressed their concerns about these price hikes in a letter to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. According to Kosnett and Durrani, the average price per milliliter for the drug went from $18.57 in 2008 to $1346.37 in 2014. U.S. hospitals have no other source for calcium EDTA. Most of those who develop acute lead poisoning are children. The effects of lead poisoning are lasting and profound. Calcium EDTA is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, which lists medications that are most critical for a healthcare system to have on hand.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
It's rare to get a glimpse behind the curtain of pharmaceutical marketing. CBC [has] learned about a stealth marketing campaign involving a drug company, a well-known Canadian comedian, a doctor and a public relations firm. "Cathy Jones of This Hour Has 22 Minutes is on a mission to get women to start talking about female sexual health after menopause - and particularly, their vaginas," wrote PR company GCI Group in a press release, offering to arrange an interview. But nowhere did it say this "mission" was initiated and sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., which makes a vaginal hormone pill. Nor did GCI's release specify that Jones was paid to give media interviews about vaginal atrophy. When CBC asked if there was a drug company involved, the PR firm said yes, Novo Nordisk, but that was to be kept secret. "No parties including GCI want any mention of the drug or drug company," CBC was told. "It's an unbranded campaign." In other words, it's marketing that looks like any other lifestyle article in news. This is what it looks like on the Globe and Mail's website. There was originally no mention of Novo Nordisk sponsoring the campaign. Is it OK for a drug company, behind a curtain, to generate news about a condition and then encourage women to see their doctor? "No, it is not OK," says Dr. Jerilynn Prior [with] the University of British Columbia. "It is misrepresenting the marketing purpose behind it." This is a rare public example of something that happens all the time.
In his 93 years, Bob Wallace has seen some product-pricing doozies over the decades, but the nonstop national furor over the stratospheric price hikes for EpiPens - now retailing above $700 for a two-pack - was the final shot. Wallace and Roland Krevitt, a veteran Scotts Valley manufacturing and tooling consultant, set out to demystify the cost to produce the EpiPen, piece by piece. The auto-injector delivers a lifesaving dose of adrenaline to treat serious allergic reactions to everything from bee stings to food. [They crunched] the costs for molding and manufacturing the nozzle, needle, syringe, springs, safety cap - and 0.3 mg of epinephrine. Their startling estimate of the cost for a two-pack of EpiPens: $8.02. And that even included the bright-yellow box. The pharmaceutical giant Mylan is the latest drugmaker to withstand a public lashing over skyrocketing drug prices. While politicians and patients demand explanations ... policy experts and drug makers blame an American health care system built on an ever-expanding pool of middlemen whose piece of the action is driving up the final bill. [Mylan’s] chief executive, Heather Bresch, recently told a congressional committee her company pays $69 per two-pack to the firm that actually manufactures the EpiPen, [and] pointed to charts explaining why the company charges a $608 wholesale price for a two-pack. The Wall Street Journal ... reported last week that Mylan low-balled its calculation of EpiPen profits to Congress.
New York state's attorney general on Tuesday opened an investigation into the pharmaceuticals giant [Mylan], focused on its contracts with local school systems to buy its lifesaving EpiPens. The skyrocketing price of those auto-injection devices, used to counteract potentially fatal allergic reactions, has drawn intense criticism. The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it launched its probe after a preliminary review revealed Mylan might have inserted anti-competitive terms into its deals to sell EpiPens. Schneiderman's move came within hours of U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Mylan violated federal antitrust laws. "As the cost of EpiPens skyrocketed, schools seeking relief turned to Mylan's 'EpiPen4Schools' program," Blumenthal's office said. "Some of these schools were required to sign a contract agreeing not to purchase any products from Mylan's competitors for a period of 12 months - conduct that can violate the antitrust laws." Schneiderman's probe also comes on the heels of news that Minnesota's attorney general, Lori Swanson, has asked Mylan to provide documents that would justify the company having raised the retail price of EpiPens more than 400 percent. "No child's life should be put at risk because a parent, school, or health-care provider cannot afford a simple, lifesaving device because of a drug-maker's anti-competitive practices," Schneiderman said.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The newly licensed vaccine against the dengue virus - trade name Dengvaxia - could lead to an increase in the number of cases of the disease if not implemented correctly, experts warn in a new study. The number of people affected by dengue has increased in recent years, with 390 million people estimated to be infected each year. Cases of the disease have [been] reported in more than 100 countries worldwide. Dengvaxia was produced by Sanofi Pasteur, which, after spending 20 years developing the vaccine, published promising findings on its effectiveness in 2015. Trials showed the vaccine to be 59.2% effective against dengue when results were pooled across populations and age groups. [Study author] Neil Ferguson used data from the clinical trials to assess the impact of using the vaccine in different settings and found that its use in areas with low levels of disease, where people are unlikely to have been previously exposed to dengue, could lead to an increase in people severely affected by the infection due to the complexities of the virus and the way it interacts with our immune system. "Unlike most diseases, the second time you get dengue, it's much more likely to be severe than the first time you get it," Ferguson said. When people who have never experienced the infection get immunized, the vaccine may act like a silent infection, gearing them up for a more severe infection should they face the real form of the virus. "It can have the potential to make things worse if it's misused," Ferguson said.
Note: Dengue fever is carried by aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also carry zika virus. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine news articles from reliable major media sources.
EpiPen prices aren't the only thing to jump at Mylan. Executive salaries have also seen a stratospheric uptick. Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase. In 2007 the company bought the rights to EpiPen, a device used to provide emergency epinephrine to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction and began raising its price. In 2008 and 2009, Mylan raised the price by 5 percent. At the end of 2009 it tried out a 19 percent hike. The years 2010-2013 saw a succession of 10 percent price hikes. And from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016, Mylan steadily raised EpiPen prices 15 percent every other quarter. After Mylan acquired EpiPen the company also amped up its lobbying efforts. In 2008, its reported spending on lobbying went from $270,000 to $1.2 million, according to opensecrets.org. Legislation that enhanced its bottom line followed, with the FDA changing its recommendations in 2010 that two EpiPens be sold in a package instead of one. And in 2013 the government passed a law to give block grants to states that required they be stocked in public schools.
A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015. Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection - Harvoni and Sovaldi - accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic drug costs in 2015. Medicare’s catastrophic coverage was originally designed to protect seniors with multiple chronic conditions from the cumulatively high costs of taking many different pills. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent after they have spent $4,850 of their own money. With some drugs now costing more than $1,000 per pill, that threshold can be crossed quickly. Lawmakers who created Part D in 2003 also hoped added protection would entice insurers to participate in the program. Medicare pays 80 percent of the cost of drugs above a catastrophic threshold that combines spending by the beneficiary and the insurer. That means taxpayers, not insurers, bear the exposure for the most expensive patients. Catastrophic spending accounts for a fast-growing share of Medicare’s drug costs, which totaled nearly $137 billion in 2015. The catastrophic share was 37 percent, yet only about 9 percent of beneficiaries reached the threshold for such costs. Catastrophic coverage will soon cost as much as the entire prescription program did when it launched. Experts say the rapid rise in spending for pricey drugs threatens to make the popular prescription benefit financially unsustainable.
Note: Read an excellent essay by former New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Marcia Angell exposing The Truth About the Drug Companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.