Why patients cannot afford to have asthma or gout

It is noteworthy how certain vital and effective generic drugs for common diseases have become exorbitantly expensive. We are use to new pharmaceutical brands costing a small fortune. But generics, one of which goes back to use in Egyptian times? Really? Allopurinol and asthma inhalers that are cheap but effective medications have become unaffordable to those that need it the most: Simply stated, those that can’t breathe and those that can’t move.

Most people know that drug commercials fill the airwaves with seemingly nonstop advertisements. Most know about the exorbitant costs.

One example, although there are many, is the new hepatitis C drug at $1,000 per pill. Generic asthma inhalers used to be extremely cheap. But with the new environmental laws, they recently were required to change the propellant, which then caused the inhaler to be considered a ‘new” drug with a “new” brand name. This innovative way to gouge the consumer, was a new form of “suffocation” for the asthma patient.

But what is most interesting is how this came about. Big Pharma lobbied for it and made it happen. According to Mother Jones, for around $520,000 cost of lobbying, they succeeded in recreating and repackaging the old generic asthma inhaler for 4-6 times the price. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, costs anywhere from $50 to $100 per inhaler in the US, but it was less than $15 a decade ago before it was re-patented.

Why hasn’t hairspray gone up 500 percent?

Do most know that there is a lack of regulation in the pharmaceutical industry and how it affects them?

But it’s the things that you don’t know that can hurt you. For example, Medicare cannot negotiate rates with Big Pharma. Can you imagine selling something where you decide the price and the other party is forced to pay? This is not a free market let’s just say.

What I see clearly is that people that have trouble breathing and moving may no longer afford to move or breathe. To be frank, it’s sort of sadistic, and it’s not subtle. While many argue there is a cost for research and development for branded drugs, these are hard to justify for generics. When one sees a patient suffering from these afflictions and there is a good treatment option, it is kind of cruel to make it cost prohibitive for many, for apparently no good reason, other than to feed the drug manufacturers.

Jonas Salk, MD, is responsible for eradicating polio. His polio vaccine was never patented. He wanted his polio vaccine to save lives throughout the world and to be known throughout history. He was not fueled by greed. As he aptly put it when asked whether there would be a patent for the polio vaccine, he said, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

“Deceased, MD” is a physician.

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