We’ve written before about skyrocketing drug prices. These prices can disproportionately affect middle-class and working-class folks at the pharmacy counter. (You know, average Americans like you and us).
But even without nonsensical increases, prescription drug costs are still high, which is part of the broader trend of rising health care costs – particularly high premiums. So, how much is the Rx price tab for average Americans? Roughly $1,370 annually. It’s a problem either way. If you’re insured you end up paying higher premiums, but if you’re not, you end up paying the amount in full. That’s one heavy burden – especially if you need specialty medication.
For instance, Pfizer has been criticized in the news for acquiring Medivation, which makes the prostate cancer drug Xtandi. Xtandi costs roughly four times as much in the United States as it does in most other countries and can be up to a whopping $129,000 for a course of treatment. We understand people’s frustration, but as it turns out, North Carolina also needs Pfizer to succeed. (Conundrum, much?)
Pfizer, the nation’s largest drug company, has a solid presence here. One of their global plants is located in Rocky Mount (at least for the moment), where it employs around 2,000 people—just shy of 8% of the city’s total workforce. That’s hefty, for a single company. And in Sanford, Pfizer (operating as Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which they acquired in 2009) is the largest employer in town. Which means that, at least for a lot of folks down East, Pfizer’s fate is our fate too.
So, it’s a complicated issue right? North Carolinians need lower drug costs, but we also need Pfizer to succeed. One solution that can make us all feel better; drug pricing transparency.
Some drug companies (Johnson & Johnson, for instance) are now making an effort to be more transparent in their drug pricing. If they’re going to raise prices, they’re letting you know up front how much — and in some cases, why.
North Carolina should be encouraging as much voluntary transparency into drug pricing as possible, not just because it benefits our citizens, but because it may benefit our economy.
So, recap: down with soaring drug prices. Up with voluntary transparency. And let’s encourage good decisions on the part of one of North Carolina’s staple industries — for everyone’s benefit.