Bad Math: Two Generics Make One Expensive Branded Drug

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on October 20, 2015

A new aptly titled article in The New York Times sounds the alarm on drugmakers’ pricing maneuvers that continue to escalate the cost of prescription drugs.

The article, “Drug Makers Sidestep Barriers on Pricing,” is another example of the many monopoly-like pricing schemes used to increase prices without rhyme or reason and prevent entry of meaningful generic competition. This time, a pharmaceutical company combined two over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and slapped on a brand name price tag to create Duexis, a $1,500 drug. Duexis is made up of two generic equivalents of Motrin and Pepcid – which patients can buy for $20 or $40 a month.

To make providers more willing to prescribe Duexis over more the more affordable generics, Horizon Pharma is using its own mail-order specialty pharmacy to handle the reimbursement process and send the treatment directly to patients.

Health plans have pioneered value-based purchasing and cost-sharing designs that guide individuals toward high-quality and cost-effective treatments, like generics or over-the-counter equivalents. But as the New York Times article points out, drug companies are skirting these efforts to push providers and patients toward more expensive drugs.

The U.S. health care system can’t afford to let these pricing schemes undermine tools that enable patients to access the treatment they need and attain the same clinical benefits at a lower price.

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