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Drug Of The Week: Nexium – Proof Of Arbitrary Price Hikes

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on April 7, 2016

News this week focused on giant price hikes for commonly used medications – showing yet again that the problem of soaring prices isn’t limited to a few bad apples but systemic to the pharmaceutical industry. And it’s a systemic problem that’s making health care more expensive for everyone. “Together, the price increases on drugs for arthritis, high cholesterol, asthma and other common problems added billions in costs for consumers, employers and government health programs,” Reuters reported.

We looked to the Reuters analysis, which found routine price increases over the past five years, as inspiration for our latest Drug of the Week. On the list was Nexium, an acid reflux medication from AstraZeneca. The price for Nexium has jumped nearly 50 percent since 2011. The arbitrary nature of price increases like these is worrisome. Over that five-year period, the number of people taking Nexium decreased, but nevertheless, the price per unit continued to rise.

“How can I pay something like that? I’m 70 years old, and I’m on a fixed income,” Patricia Calopietro, a retired sales manager who once paid $20 for a three-month supply of Nexium, said in the Reuters article. Now the average price for Nexium is around $215 – a significantly higher price that could put it out of reach for patients like Patricia who need the treatment.

As always, stay tuned for upcoming drug spotlights.