Baltimore Sun: Can Big Pharma keep getting away with price gouging? Not if Elijah Cummings has anything to say about it

Know why big pharmaceutical companies in the United States raise the prices of some prescription drugs to outrageous levels? Because they can. There are few obstacles to jacking up prices so the companies that sell brand-name drugs — and spend millions to advertise them ad nauseam — do pretty much what they please, and shamelessly.

In the midst of a real national crisis — unlike the Trump administration’s fake national crisis at the southwestern border — with nearly 50,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017 and likely even more in 2018, the Virginia-based company that manufactures an overdose-reversal drug increased the price of its antidote by 600 percent. The people running that company must have been inoculated against shame.

A survey by The Washington Post shows the following price increases for three versions of life-sustaining insulin: Sanofi’s Lantus brand, once $35 a vial, now lists at $270. A person with diabetes could buy Novo Nordisk’s Novolog for $40 in 2001; by last year it was listed at $289. It took a bit longer, but Eli Lily’s Humalog went from $21 for a 10-milliliter vial in 1996 to its current price of $275.

There’s far more than inflation involved in those trends. I can think of at least three other factors: Greed, greed and greed.

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