Why are Prescription Medications so Expensive?


    This is one question I keep asking myself and I am sure I am not the only one doing so, especially retirees and those on a fixed income.  Whenever we bitch and complain to our elected officials we get the same tiring answers. “I feel your pain”. “We are working on it”. These patronizing answers coming from members of Congress who do not have to worry about paying these high costs with their generous government health plans, do not sit well with me. They have no interest in changing anything because they are bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.

    I am lucky enough not to require numerous expensive prescription drugs, but many seniors do need multiple drugs, which they must pay for on a limited fixed income. Medicare  Part D prescription drug programs help, but the newer drugs are in Tier 3 or 4, which means that they are much more expensive. Those drug plans that do have a lower copay also have a higher premium. So they rob you either way. What really sickens me is the amount of advertising the drug companies do to promote their most popular or newest drugs! How many suffering people watch these ads that offer hope for relieving pain and alleviating symptoms of chronic health problems and feel hopeless because they cannot afford to buy them?

    When I lived in Malaysia I took the same medicines that I take now in the US. I didn’t have a drug plan there, but I still paid less than 1/3 of what I do now. Of course the airways and print media did not bombard the public with costly drug ads.  I used to work in the Longwood Medical Area section of Boston, which was a center for healthcare, medical research and education and Harvard Medical School. I can remember constant construction involving the building of numerous multi-million dollar state of the art pharmaceutical research facilities. I could not help thinking that every time I saw a new building go up the cost of prescription drugs would skyrocket!

    I realize that research for new drugs is very expensive and construction is too, but as well as assuring the best of salaries and facilities, the drug companies should also try to assure that their drugs are affordable to all who need them, not just the wealthy. If their drugs are really good and effective,  word of mouth and patient and doctor affirmation will sell them. They don’t need billion dollar ad campaigns, which help drive up the costs, for those who need help the most!  I don’t feel at all hopeful for the future because I feel the main purpose of the big pharmaceutical companies is to make money, not to alleviate suffering on a wide scale!