soaring-drug-costs“Wow,” commented my sister, “I went to purchase a 90 day supply of my husband’s medicine and found it was so expensive that I had to settle for one month supply that cost me over $300.  Sometimes I wonder how we can afford all of our medicines.”  So goes the story for many Americans today that some don’t even buy all of their drugs.

But there are even more expensive drugs on the market.  Recently, I read a newspaper article regarding the high cost of Acthar, the single most expensive drug per person, paid by the federal government in 2015. Medicare spent an average of $162,371 for the 3,100 beneficiaries using the drug.  They spent a total of $504 million for 2015 (29% increase from the year before).  In 2001 this drug cost $40 a vial and today $38,000 a vial.

Acthar is used for numerous afflictions including multiple sclerosis, rheumatic disorders and certain cancers.  Great drug, but how long will insurance pay for it!  Acthar accounts for 34% of the pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt’s $3.381 billion in net sales or a $1.5 billion drug for the company.

The high cost of this drug has not escaped the eyes of the Senate Committee.  Investigations are still in process.  Insurance companies are limiting reimbursements; however, CMS is still continuing to pay for the majority of Acthar.  Watch for the response from CMS on Acthar and the results of a report by two senators on price gouching by prescription drug makers.

Edwina Lee, BSN MSN Crown Care


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