Rheumatoid arthritis can be a painful, debilitating disease. But like some of its victims, Fred LeStourgeon was lucky enough to find long-term relief through drug therapy – in his case, with a combination of two widely available generic drugs.
Then something odd happened, and LeStourgeon has been asking questions ever since. Last fall, one of the medications he relied on, leflunomide, nearly vanished from the market – only a much higher-priced brand version, Arava, remained available. And when leflunomide returned, the price had jumped more than tenfold – from about $70 for a three-month supply at his Acme Markets pharmacy to $942.”
(CNN) — Concerned about the nationwide drug shortage and exorbitant markups, a congressman Wednesday asked five “gray market” companies that buy and sell hard-to-find drugs to provide information on their sales.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Maryland, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a statement that he is looking into the extent at which “middleman companies are making substantial profits by engaging in a form of drug speculation.”
One of the companies allegedly sold a drug used to treat leukemia for more than $990 per vial, more than 80 times a typical contract price of about $12 per vial, according to Cummings.
The cost of health insurance for many Americans this year climbed more sharply than in previous years, outstripping any growth in workers’ wages and adding more uncertainty about the pace of rising medical costs.
A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group that tracks employer-sponsored health insurance on a yearly basis, shows that the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer reached $15,073 in 2011, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year.