Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Drug companies are charging Americans twice as much on average as Europeans for mental health medications, the Public Citizen group said Wednesday.
The group, which campaigns on consumer issues, said it did a study that showed drug companies were making huge profits on medications ranging from antidepressants to schizophrenia drugs, in many cases pricing them out of peoples' reach.
``It is price gouging of the worst kind,'' said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, head of health research for the group.``The companies charge what they want to who they want,''Wolfe told a news conference.
Public Citizen said it surveyed prices for eight drugs in 17 countries and found huge differences in prices charged by pharmacies. ``For all of the eight drugs, the cost in the U.S.was more than anywhere else,'' Larry Sasich, a pharmacist with Public Citizen who helped write the survey, said. For example, clozapine, a schizophrenia drug made by Novartis under the name Clozaril, costs $51.94 for a 30-day supply in Spain, but $317.03 in the United States.
It costs $271.08 in Canada and $294.93 in Britain. Risperdone, another schizophrenia drug made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen under the name Risperdal, costs
$123.99 for a 30-day supply in France, but $248.86 in the United States. Lilly's best-seller Prozac, known generically as fluoxetine, sells for $72.16 in the United States and $25.93 in Spain.
``The industry needs to be brought to its knees in terms of this kind of discriminatory pricing,'' Wolfe said. ``We think ideally there should be some sort of pricecontrol. If we really believe in health for people with serious mental illness, we need to put some controls on.''
But the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was quick to defend the industry.``Price controls are a dagger aimed at the hearts of America's patients,'' PhRMA Alan Holmer said in a statement. ``If price controls are imposed, there will be less
investment in research and development, and fewer new cures and treatments.
(Because we won't be making as much profit and all we care about is profit margin, after all we are a giant capitalistic super power drug czar that does as it pleases and controlls congress,How dare you suggest controls on us, we do as we please and no one dare stand in our way.
''The Public Citizen report said companies made plenty of money and did not need to make such high profits -- even if they do invest heavily in the research and development of new drugs.
``Pharmaceutical industry profits are extraordinarily high,'' the report said. ``In the United States, sales of $3.3 billion have recently been estimated for the five study antidepressants alone, and for the three antipsychotic drugs surveyed in this study the estimate was $1.1 billion.'' But Holmer said these profits helped make the United States the world leader in biomedical research. He said it cost, on average, $500 million to develop one new medicine and that only one of every 5,000 compounds tested as potential drugs ever made it to market
`About half of all new medicines in the world are discovered and developed by U.S. companies. Why? Our companies take on the extraordinary risk of drug discovery because America's free market system offers incentives and potential rewards,'' he said.
``The report is flawed in that it fails to recognize that drug prices will vary for a number of reasons, including currency fluctuations, price controls, patent piracy, regulatory mechanisms, varying standards of living, variations in medical practice and other factors.''
Novartis was not immediately available for comment. ( I wonder why he didn't want to comment,
Hey GOP of congress instead of spending your time looking up Monica's dress and wondering if she got any sex or not, why not look into the corruption and abuse of power by these
US Approved Drug Czars )
One last comment, the focus on drug control has been street level and across the borders while the largest drug dealers in the world (US Drug Companies) have went unchecked without controls. The goverment of the US should start at home in their own back yard
and with those who have been approved by congress to distribute trillions of dollars in drugs, who is controling these multi trillion dollar drug dealers, is congress in control of this OutRage, or is congress being controlled by this OutRage, with the prices these companies are allowed to gouge from American citizens, insurance companies and Medicare it is without a doubt a contributing factor to the cause of a decline in our health care system.
The comments in blue represent the opinions of W. Hodge webmaster and author of Outrage, sorry Maggie Fox Health and Science Correspondent, you don't get credit for my commentaries