Medicine: Saves Lives but Steals Money

Everyone relies on medicine to help with the simple headache or to stay alive. In the past few years the prices of drugs such as EpiPens, insulin, and Xarelto have increased up to 8,000%. These drugs are what some people rely on to live and be able to have a normal life.

In Utah a mother talks about the struggle of having to pay these prices just so her daughter can have insulin and a glucagon for her diabetes. With the health care insurance costing half of her mortgage, the rising cost has affected the family. The mother, Mrs. Stocking, talks about how unfair it is to try to make a profit off of people who have no choice but to use these drugs. The mother states, “I’m willing to pay money to save my kid’s life. I’ll pay whatever I have to. And they know that.”

The skyrocketing costs of prescription medicines not only affects people across the country, but also people in our community. The city of Virginia Beach workers are offered health care insurance through their jobs, but it only helps with the prices to a certain extent. Stacey Hershberger, Budget Analysis of the city of Virginia Beach, states “If a generic is available and the member fills the brand drug, the member will pay not only the copay or the coinsurance but also the difference in the cost of the drug (not to exceed $150 per prescription filled).” This means if someone buys the brand over the generic, they must pay for the difference. In the Cape Henry community, specifically nurse Debbie Saunders stated, “Parents are upset about the problem.” It restricts many parents from being able “to keep medicines at school and at home since prescriptions are so expensive. They simply can’t afford to do that.” Even with insurance, two Epipens often cost more than $800 and must be refilled each year to comply with the issued expiration date.

Is this fair?

One of the companies behind the rising of prices is Johnson & Johnson. In April of this year, some common drugs such as Imbruvica, a leukemia drug, has been affected by this problem. “The average cost of cancer drugs increased from roughly $10,000 before 2000 to over $100,000 in 2012” In the past, drug companies were only allowed to increase the price once a year, but now it’s multiple times a year and no one is there to say stop. Mrs. Saunders added, “If you think about it, it’s all about the drug company presidents and CEOs making a lot of money, but it should be about saving lives.” Also there’s no way our local government can help with the cost. Ms. Hershberger adds “the city cannot affect the cost of drugs.” There are no solutions as of now, but another company Mylan, their CEO Heather Bresch, is having to testify in front of Congress about the price of Epipens going up. Her company in general owns 94% of the market and might be the reason behind the prices drastically increasing. This affects millions of people and it needs to changed.