In the past few years, the rising costs of many prescription drugs has been a controversial issue. Many important and life-saving drugs have seen their prices skyrocket in the last five years, and some medicines have had this issue since the early 2000s. For example, the cost of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. Some drug prices have increased up to 5,241 percent in recent years.
Issues with the Price of Doxycycline
The price of doxycycline, a popular generic antibiotic, has been rapidly increasing for about five years, and 20 U.S. state attorneys general have recently filed an antitrust lawsuit to address the issue. They claim that six drug manufacturers have fixed the prices for doxycycline. The case also involves glyburide, a diabetes drug, which the attorneys general believe the manufacturers split the market for. The manufacturers involved in the lawsuit include Mylan, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Mayne Pharma, Aurobindo Pharma, and Citron Pharma. There is also currently an extensive investigation occurring at the federal and congressional levels to determine the reason behind the price increases.
Mylan has been at the center of attention in the past year for the steep increase in the cost of the EpiPen, a necessary and life-saving drug for those who have severe allergies. The company acquired the drug in 2007, and in the years since, the price has increased by about 460 percent. It currently costs more than $600 for a two-pack of the drug.
Heritage Pharmaceuticals, a smaller company, is at the center of this new lawsuit. The company’s former CEO, Jeffrey Glazer, and former president, Jason Malek, were both fired in August 2016. They are being charged for fixing the price of doxycycline hyclate and splitting the market with competitors. Heritage is also suing Glazer and Malek for “looting” millions of dollars from the business.
In 2013, Heritage Pharmaceuticals reportedly contacted Mylan to inform the larger company that they planned to manufacture their own version of a delayed-release form of doxycycline. At the time, Mylan was the only other manufacturer of this form of the drug, and they agreed to leave one pharmacy chain and one major wholesaler so Heritage could enter the market without either company needing to lower their prices. In 2014, Mayne Pharma also entered the market, and the three companies negotiated on how to set the prices.
Arcadia Healthcare Solutions has a drug price calculator that shows the rising costs of prescription medicines. The calculator found that the biggest price change in recent years was for pyridoxine, or vitamin B6, which increased more than 500 percent between 2011 and 2015. Other drugs that increased more than 300 percent in these years include hydroxychloroquine, clobetasol, magnesium oxide, and desonide. These increases aren’t necessarily all due to market manipulation, but it’s likely that many prescription drug price hikes are a result of monopolization. When a company has a monopoly on a medication, they can do what they want with the prices. People who need the medications, especially the life-saving ones, are forced to pay.
In 2011, the average cost of a doxycycline prescription was $13. By 2016, the price had risen to about $54, which is a 315 percent increase. One particular form of doxycycline saw even more dramatic increases, going from about $20 per bottle in 2013 to $1,849 per bottle in 2014. According to Arcadia’s calculator, in 2015, there were only half as many scripts written for doxycycline as there were in 2011. However, the total money paid for the drug increased from $19 million in 2011 to $40 million in 2015.
Learn more about Drug Lawsuits.