The Contrarian

“In the investment markets, what everyone knows is usually not worth knowing.”

Pharma Gag Rules to Prevent Price Information

Pharmaceutical prices have skyrocketed the past 20 years. A health magazine had a list of drugs that saw price increases of 4000% and 8000%. Most of these were old drugs, where all the research had been amortized years ago.

Why is it that the biggest payer of prescription drugs in the world, Medicare, has to deal with a law that prohibits it to negotiate drug prices with the pharma companies? Ask the Congress people who got the envelopes of cash. President Trump wants to change that.

Have you heard about the “gag rule” designed to prevent you from getting price information on your prescription? Big Pharma says that the posted retail price is not what most people pay, because their insurance pays. But who does the insurance get the money from? The people who need the meds? It’s all a con game.

You go to a pharmacy to get a prescription filled as happened to a friend of ours. Only when he asked was he told the price: $400. He asked for the price of the generic version. The person refused to reveal the price, making excuses like there were different dosages, different frequencies for taking it, etc. and furthermore she couldn’t sell the generic drug without a new prescription.

Frustrated that he couldn’t get price info on the generic, he went to a different pharmacy. The brand name cost $400. After being asked, reluctantly the pharmacy person said the generic drug was $56. He got the generic one without a new prescription.

What’s the problem? Your pharmacist may be contractually prohibited from telling you how to cut your prescription cost, such as a by using generic drugs.

The Pew Charitable Trusts writes:

 “Many consumers know of pharmacy benefit management companies through their brand names, such as Express Scripts, CVS Caremark and OptumRX. The companies, sometimes referred to as pharmacy benefit managers, manage prescription drug plans and serve as go-betweens for pharmacies and health insurance companies.

The gag clauses are inserted into contracts with pharmacies by pharmacy benefit management companies, and they prohibit druggists from telling patients or caregivers about lower prices or cheaper drug options, such as generic drugs.”

Patients never know that there could be a less expensive way to get their medicines, because their neighborhood pharmacist can’t talk about it in the fear that they may violate those contracts.

Do a search on the internet and you will that the 20 most prescribed drugs for seniors went up 10 times faster than inflation over the past 5 years.

The Mafia will be envious hearing about such scams. About 30 states are now considering laws prohibiting the “gag rule.”

And this is why we would never invest in a big pharma stock. We don’t support vultures that prey on the sick and the old, no matter how profitable they may be.

Furthermore, Big Pharma hides information about the drugs. You get nothing but the dosage and the name of the drug. In Europe, where the same drugs sell for a fraction of the US price, you get a very informative leaflet. It gives very good info about what it does, the chemistry, and also potential side effects.

Why is it that while a loaf a bread or a soda most have the content on the label, but potentially dangerous drugs can be sold without any information?

Oh yes, the top people of the FDA and their “consultants” are often from the Big Pharma firms they regulate.

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