drug prices

franchise opportunities / Flickr

A new study by the consumer website GoodRx has found that the cost for prescriptions can vary videly, even in the same state. 

Cleveland pharmacy prices were 2.5 percent above the national average while Columbus prices were nearly 22 percent below the average.  

Today on Wellness Wednesday, how and why drugs are priced differently in different cities and states.

Also, the growing science of gene editing, and who should check their bone density numbers -- and when. 

Guests:

Since Kristen Catton started taking the drug Gilenya two years ago, she's had only one minor relapse of her multiple sclerosis, following a bout of the flu.

Thanks to the medicine, she says, she's able to walk comfortably, see clearly and work part time as a nurse case manager at a hospital near her home in Columbus, Ohio. This is a big step forward; two drugs she previously tried failed to control her physical symptoms or prevent repeated flare-ups.

A simple question at the pharmacy could unlock savings for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.

Under a little-known Medicare rule, they can pay a lower cash price for prescriptions instead of using their insurance and doling out the amount the policy requires. But only if they ask.

That is because pharmacists say their contracts with drug plans often contain "gag orders" forbidding them from volunteering this information.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has this pen. It's not all that remarkable looking, but he held it up multiple times Monday at a briefing with reporters.

"This pen," he said, "has a lot of power."

And he said he is prepared to use it.

Azar was making the point that in the area of drug prices, the head of HHS — which runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs and buys about $130 billion in prescription drugs each year — can make a lot of changes in the pharmaceutical market. And he doesn't need congressional approval to do it.

prescription medicine bottles
David Kessler / Flickr Creative Commons

Ohio regulators are telling insurers not to enforce "gag orders" that stop pharmacists from telling customers about lower prices on prescription drugs.

Forty-five states and the Department of Justice are claiming that generic-drug prices are fixed and the alleged collusion may have cost U.S. business and consumers more than $1 billion.

In their complaint, prosecutors say that when pharmacies asked drugmakers for their lowest price, the manufacturers would rig the bidding process.

medicine
Pixabay

Sponsors of a bipartisan bill in the state Legislature say they have a plan to lower the price of prescription drugs. But it doesn’t do it the same way as the issue Ohio voters rejected in November – it’s aimed at the middlemen in the insurance process, pharmacy benefit managers.

Ohio Senate Democrats / Twitter

A Democratic lawmaker is introducing a bill that would require drug companies to slash their prices. The legislation is similar to the measure voters overwhelmingly voted down on last year’s ballot.

Facing bipartisan hostility over high drug prices in an election year, the pharmaceutical industry's biggest trade group boosted revenue by nearly a fourth in 2016 and spread the millions collected among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians and patient groups, new filings show.

Drug prices are too high, and we had better do something about it. That is the nutshell conclusion of a 201-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

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