Nexium. Plavix. Lipitor. Taken by millions of Americans, these and a hundred other drugs have been sold at unconscionably high prices for years because of Pharma’s back-room deals – and no one I’ve talked to even knows about it.
When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) nine years ago, I was a busy mother of three young children with a double mortgage to pay. I needed a medicine called Provigil just to function, but it cost me $500 a month, out-of-pocket. For years, I’d skip pills or split doses to get by, but my crippling fatigue left me unable to work. In 2011, I had to stop taking my medicine against doctor’s orders because I could no longer afford its high price.
Why did I suffer for so long? A generic of Provigil should have been available as early as Christmas 2005. Instead, the company that makes Provigil paid four competitors over $200 million to sit on their hands and not release a generic version of the drug. A recent CNN op-ed, How Big Pharma rips you off on drugs, explains their motive:
“Instead of losing up to 90% of their market share because of the introduction of a generic, companies can simply pay generic manufacturers and make the competition go away.”
I’m not an economist, but that does not sound like how it’s supposed to work. Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks so. Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether these deals can continue in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis.
The problem is a lot bigger than just Provigil. Since 2005, companies have made over 165 of these deals. The FTC estimates that each pay-for-delay deal makes us pay $3,000 more a year per drug. No wonder we Americans pay more out-of-pocket for prescriptions than anyone in the world!
The stakes in this case are high: if the FTC wins, Big Pharma will no longer be able to pay to keep generic competitors off the market. But if they lose, Pharma will keep charging high prices – money that comes right out of our pockets.
Fortunately for me, the generic version of Provigil came out in October. I can now afford my full dose, and pay only $16 every three months – a lot less than the $16 per pill that brand-name Provigil cost me. I’m back to living my life. But no family should have to go through what we did.
Please join me in letting the government know consumers have had it with drug companies using their wealth and power to buy off the competition.
Sign my petition for affordable medicines, today!
Karen Winkler with Community Catalyst started this petition with a single signature, and now has 390 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.