Lawmakers investigating soaring generic drug prices

October 3, 2014

Two members of Congress have launched an investigation into “soaring” price increases for generic drugs used for common medical conditions as well as life-threatening ones.

Two members of Congress have launched an investigation into “soaring” price increases for generic drugs used for common medical conditions as well as life-threatening ones.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland) last week sent letters to 14 pharmaceutical companies, including Actavis, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Endo International, Mylan Laboratories, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Sun Pharmaceutical, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The congressmen have requested that the generic drug makers provide information about escalating prices by October 23.

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“It is unacceptable that Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Generic drugs were meant to help make medications affordable for the millions of Americans who rely on prescriptions to manage their health needs,” Sanders said in a statement. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of these enormous price increases.”

 

Cummings said generics have historically represented savings for consumers and taxpayers. “However, these outrageous recent cost increases are now preventing patients from getting the drugs they need, and they merit further investigation to better understand what factors are driving these price spikes.”

Sanders is chairman of a Senate healthcare subcommittee and Cummings is a ranking member of the House Oversight committee. As an example of increasing prices for generics, the two lawmakers point to albuterol sulfate. According to the Healthcare Supply Chain Association, the average cost for a bottle of 100 albuterol sulfate pills was $11 in October 2013. By April 2014, the average charge was $434. During that same period, the average price for the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate jumped from $20 for 500 tablets to $1,849.

The lawmakers also cited a National Community Pharmacists Association study that found some patients refused to fill prescriptions because of the rising prices.