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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine March 2005
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Death by Regulation

The Free Market Solution

The FDA pretends that its regulations protect Americans, yet studies published in establishment medical journals document that regulated drugs are a leading cause of death in the US.30,31

TABLE 2: WHAT PRESCRIPTION DRUGS REALLY COST

Brand Name

Dosage

Consumer Price
(100 tabs/caps)

Cost of Generic
Active Ingredient
(100 tabs/caps)

Percent Mark-up
(100 tabs/caps)

Celebrex®

100 mg

$ 130.27

$ 0.60

21,612%

Claritin®

10 mg

$ 215.17

$ 0.71

30,206%

Keflex®

250 mg

$ 157.39

$ 1.88

8,272%

Lipitor®

20 mg

$ 272.37

$ 5.80

4,596%

Norvasc®

10 mg

$ 188.29

$ 0.14

134,393%

Paxil®

20 mg

$ 220.27

$ 7.60

2,798%

Prevacid®

30 mg

$ 344.77

$ 1.01

34,036%

Prilosec®

20 mg

$ 419.00

$ 0.52

80,477%

Prozac®

20 mg

$ 247.47

$ 0.11

224,873%

Tenormin®

50 mg

$ 104.47

$ 0.13

80,262%

Vasotec®

10 mg

$ 102.37

$ 0.20

51,085%

Xanax®

1 mg

$ 136.79

$ 0.02

569,858%

Zestril®

20 mg

$ 89.89

$ 3.20

2,709%

Zithromax®

600 mg

$1,482.19

$18.78

7,792%

Zocor®

40 mg

$ 350.27

$ 8.63

3,959%

Zoloft®

50 mg

$ 206.87

$ 1.75

11,721%

Table 1 shows the astounding price decreases of dietary supplements after their deregulation. We state unequivocally that if Congress took the bold initiative of deregulating prescription drugs, their costs would fall even more dramatically than did the costs of dietary supplements.

The reason is that it costs more to extract nutrients from plants and to synthesize vitamins and amino acids than it does to make most synthetic drugs. In a deregulated environment, prescription drug prices would drop to such low levels that cost would no longer be an issue.

As you can see in Table 2, the cost of the active ingredients in prescription drugs is so low that anyone could afford them in a deregulated environment.

Cynics say drug companies need this money to develop better drugs. This argument rings hollow when one realizes that the costs of even FDA-regulated generic drugs are excessive.

The facts are that regulation and artificially high prices have created an environment in which innovation is a distant second to marketing, political lobbying, campaign contributions, bloated administrative budgets, etc. If prescription drugs had to compete in a deregulated free market, companies would be forced to develop better products because the FDA would not be delaying competing products for years or decades at it does now.

In a free market, the better-quality, lower-priced products rise to the top while inferior and overpriced products sink into oblivion. In today’s upside-down regulatory environment, less effective but heavily marketed drugs outsell superior medications.32,33

Large pharmaceutical companies have grown accustomed to multibillion-dollar blockbuster drugs that have 17-20 years of patent protection. Enormous resources are devoted to marketing these drugs. Even when the patent expires, drug companies often allocate considerable financial resources to litigating against potential generic competitors, paying generic companies not to compete, and taking other steps to delay generic competition. None of these shenanigans could occur in a deregulated market where any company could compete on a level playing field.

TABLE 3: PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICE INCREASES, 1994-2004

Drug Brand Name
(Generic Name)

Company

Dosage (mg)

Count

1994 Consumer
Price Per Bottle

2004 Consumer
Price Per Bottle

Cost Per Count

Cost Increase
Per Count (%)

Premarin®

Wyeth-Ayerst

.625

100

37.08

$106.99

N/A

189%

Synthroid®

Boots-Knoll-Abbott

0.1
.075
.05

100
100
100

20.46
19.98
18.00

$49.99
$49.99
$45.99

N/A
N/A
N/A

144%
150%
156%

*Lanoxin®
(Digoxin)

Glaxo Well

.125
.25

100
100

10.82

$24.99
$28.29

N/A
N/A

131%
131%

Lasix®
(Furosemide)

Aventis/Mylan

40

100

4.73

$31.99

N/A

576%

Pepcid®
(Famotidine)

Merck

20

30

43.08

$54.47

N/A

26%

Zocor®

Merck

10
20

60
60

$108.03
$195.76

$78.99/30
$125.09/30

157.98
250.18

46%
28%

Zoloft®

Roerig

50

100

$186.64

$232.99/90 tabs

258.88

39%

Zestril®
(Lisinopril)

AstraZeneca

10
20

100
100

78.01
$83.48

$71.99/60
$77.99/60

119.98
119.98

54%
56%

Prilosec®
(Omeprazole)

Astra/Merck

20

30

$11.23

$419.00/100

125.70

1019%

Norvasc®
(Amlodipine)

Pfizer

5
10

90
90

$102
$176

$135.19
$183.19

N/A
N/A

33%
4%

Paxil®

SmithKline
Beecham

20

100

$174

$270.19/90 tabs

300.21

73%

Claritin®

Schering-Plough

10

30

53.17

$98.99

N/A

86%

Humulin N®

Lilly

100 iu

10

16.83

$83.70/5 vials

167.40

895%

K-Dur 20®

Schering-Plough

20 mEq

100

34.57

$57.15/90 tabs

63.5

84%

Klor-Con 10®

Upsher-Smith

10mEq

100

9.88

$14.99

N/A

52%

Lopressor®
(Metoprolol
Tartrate)

Mylan

50

100

43.04

$144.99/25 mg

289.98

574%

Pravachol®
(Pravastatin)

Bristol-Myers
Squibb

20

90

$155

**$134.99/40 tabs

303.73

96%

Toprol-XL®

AstraZeneca

50

100

$42.59

**$85.99/90 tabs

95.54

124%

*The above prices are somewhat more expensive than some Internet pharmacies.

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