This Isn’t The Way To Prevent Antibiotic Misuse

From a NY Times article about companies that are jacking up the prices of generic drugs:

Doxycycline, an antibiotic, went from $20 a bottle in October 2013 to $1,849 by April 2014, according to the two lawmakers.

Deoxycycline is a very old drug, though it’s still effective against many infections (including anthrax). We would be far better off using deoxycycline when we can instead of a newer antibiotic.

What’s ridiculous about the price increase is there’s no reason for it. There’s no need to run additional approval tests–we’ve been using it for decades. It’s still used today, so it’s not like companies have to retrofit or recreate manufacturing capacity. Moreover, there’s already a guaranteed market for deoxycycline since it’s part of the CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (and these drugs are regularly replaced). There is no reason whatsoever to justify a ninety-fold price increase.

This is just grasping avarice. If deoxycycline manufacturers don’t lower their prices, use them as an object lesson and figure out a way to nationalize their facilities. The last thing we want to do is encourage the use of newer antibiotics because price-gouging has made older antibiotics too expensive.

Update: Maybe not for all drugs, but there’s a point where greed leads to this sentiment by Susie Madrak.

This entry was posted in Antibiotics, Bidness, Economics, Ethics, Public Health. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to This Isn’t The Way To Prevent Antibiotic Misuse

  1. Concerned Netizen says:

    There is plenty of reason to justify a gigantic price jump: PROFIT! How much more profit do you think you can extract from a pill that costs $20 vs one that costs $2000? Unfortunately, this is what happens when hedge fundies try to make stuff rather than stick to portfolio management.

  2. david says:

    This is an unintended consequence of an idea that may have seemed smart at the time. There are lots of old drugs (pre-1938) on the market which have never been studied for safety or efficacy. We don’t really know if these work, or are safe. To address this, FDA proposed encouraging companies to conduct clinical trials of these old drugs. The method of encouragement is market exclusivity. So in 2006 FDA published a Compliance Policy Guide promising to remove unstudied versions and grant exclusivity to companies that conduct appropriate trials. You can find an updated version of the guidance on the FDA website by searching for ucm070290.

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