Drugmakers Blocking Generic Drugs, Jacking Up Drug Prices

Drugmakers of brand name drugs were called out this week by the Trump Administration for hiking prices by double digits. These price hikes have been ongoing since 2012.  These price hikes have cost Medicare and Medicaid nearly $12 billion in 2016.

In addition, brand name drug makers have stalled generic drug competition and prevented new generics from coming to market.




Drugmakers: Brand Name Manufacturers Named

Celgene tops the list, other companies that the F.D.A. named as the subject of pricing complaints included GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. Also named were BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Gilead Sciences and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Celgene, which makes drugs to treat cancer and immune-inflammatory diseases, was named as the subject of 31 inquiries from generic companies. They are seeking access to Revlimid (lenalidomide), a treatment for multiple myeloma.

It has been embroiled in lawsuits for several years with companies seeking access to its drugs. It recently sued Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., an Indian company, to block it from selling generic copies of Revlimid. This is Celgene’s biggest product. It has also stopped Mylan Drugs from getting into the generic Revlimid business. At a court hearing last year, a lawyer for Mylan, told a federal district judge that Revlimid costs dying patients $20,000 a month. This price would decline if generics were available.


Drugmakers: Other Brand Name Offenders

The next biggest target, is Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a Johnson & Johnson company. J&J blocks access to four drugs. There were 14 inquiries about accessing Tracleer, a medication prescribed for high blood pressure in lung vessels. The F.D.A. also received eight complaints about lack of access to Opsumit. It is also used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. In addition, other drugs that are blocked are Actelion’s Zavesca and Veletri. Veletri treats pulmonary arterial hypertension and Zavesca is prescribed for Gaucher disease.

Currently, an average one-month supply of Tracleer costs just over $12,000, and a supply of Opsumit runs $8,900 to $10,000. Incredibly, both prices are based on the patient presenting a free discount coupon.

Just to show the convoluted world of drug pricing, many pharmaceutical companies sell both brand-name and generic drugs. This leads to a situation in which Mylan, can also be on the receiving end of generic company complaints.

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