Profits fuel increasing prices for MS drugs

America. U.S. Medicare patients with multiple sclerosis often pay almost $7,000 out of their pocket on average every year to treat their condition. Even if pharmaceutical companies have never made any new treatment breakthroughs, for the past decade the cost of these disease-changing medications has been up 10% to 15% annually.

To discover why four pharmaceutical industry executives are engaged by a team of researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and OHSU / Oregon State University College of Pharmacy.  In a study published in today’s Neurology newspaper, the managers painted an open picture of why people with MS have access to medication.

The managers acknowledged the unique position of their companies in terms of medicines for the benefit of human health. All management indicated, however, that their business model depends on the profitability of shareholders for investment.

Some key topics were found by the researchers.

Start high and go higher

The researchers have noted that the US health system seems unique in its ability to absorb constant increases in prices. Managers noted that the price of medicines is usually highest when launched and then decrease overtime on the second-best market in the world — Europe.

The opposite appears to be the case in the U.S.

“You look at the whole world as you take these decisions,” one executive said. “You can’t do so in the other part of the world. In the other part of the world, prices are falling with the length of time on the market.”

US customers have paid the bill

Prices abroad not only fall because of market considerations, but are monitored by fixed-resource single-payer health care systems. One student, therefore, proposed that US patients should potentially compensate for the possible losses on other markets worldwide.

High price denotes “quality”

The price of a new drug reflected the price already set, regardless of the costs of research and development, by competitors selling existing medicines treating similar requirements. Nonetheless, managers believed that weakening the value of their brand by reducing the rivals-an sign of a free market.