Cost explosion of Multiple Sclerosis Drugs
US Congress Probe into BAYER Drug Prices
The excessively high prices for multiple sclerosis drugs have led the US Congress to launch a probe. Congress demanded in a letter that BAYER and six other big pharmaceutical companies disclose all documentation on these drugs. The politicians want to investigate above all documentation on profits, pricing strategies, patient programmes and distribution systems. Members of Congress Elijah Cummings and Peter Welch, who instigated the in-depth investigation said: “We believe that no American should be forced to fight for life-saving drugs, in particular, when pharmaceutical corporations increase their prices without advance warning, reason or justification.”
The two representatives of the Democratic party are drawing upon a study by Daniel M. Hartung and his team. The scientists analysed the price trends of the most common MS drugs from 1993 to 2013 and observed a massive increase. For example, the annual costs for the BAYER drug BETASERON rose from $11,500 to $60,000 – since then the cost has climbed even higher to $91,000, according to the National MS Society! While the price of other drugs in the US increased on average by 3-5% per annum, BETASERON & Co. increased by 21-36%.
The companies made the biggest increases whenever new expensive drugs entered the market. The authors of the study wondered: “Classic economic theory asserts that competition should reduce or stabilize costs for the consumer.” The could not find a plausible cause for the huge increases and concluded: “The simplest explanation is that pharmaceutical companies raise prices of new and old MS DMTs to increase profits.” Since this corporate policy is producing “a cascade of negative effects upon patients with MS,“ Harting and his colleagues have begun to question the “ethics of our current free-market drug pricing system” and are demanding health policy measures.
For a while now, BAYER & Co. have been facing strong criticism by patient groups because of their corporate practices. For example, back in September 2016 the National MS Society started a campaign for cheaper MS drugs. The association explained: “The continually rising prices for drugs to treat multiple sclerosis creates barriers for patients to receive essential medication.” Having achieved a turnover of 386 Million Euro with BETASERON in the US in 2016, the corporation with its HQ in the German city of Leverkusen is deliberately ignoring this. In a statement on the measures of Congress the corporation claims sanctimoniously: “BAYER's commitment to MS sufferers has begun 25 years ago and we remain committed to meeting the needs of the patients.”
The COALITION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS (CBG) welcomes the imminent investigation. Jens Wegener of the CBG Head Office stated: “At last there is trouble ahead for BAYER in the current free market paradise USA. Previous probes into drugs have led to price decreases in a number of cases already. But that is not enough. The completely unregulated pharmaceutical market in the US must be scrutinised as a whole. It must no longer be an instrument for big pharma to generate extra profits on the back of patients and the health system.”