TAMPA BAY, Fla. - The Price is Wrong, Bob. And millions of Americans have found this out about their prescription drug costs the hard way.
10Investigates teamed up with dozens of other TEGNA-owned television stations around the country to expose more than 100 drugs that have exploded in price in recent years, often for inexplicable reasons. The result was a week-long series of stories entitled “$ide Effect$.”
In his story to kick off the series, investigative reporter Noah Pransky pulled no punches, calling out responsible parties such as pharmaceutical companies and members of Congress.
Saying “it shouldn’t be harder to afford life-saving drugs than it is to pronounce them,” Pransky noted the average price of 365 different drugs analyzed by 10Investigates has doubled in just the last four years. One drug, Tetracycline, surged in price by 12,000 percent.
He questioned why cancer patients had to choose between prescribed medicine or paying their light bills, and why nobody in Congress is supporting a bipartisan bill aimed at stopping surging drug prices - before conceding he knew exactly why nobody in Congress supported the effort. He called on elected leaders to step up.
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10Investigates also interviewed Sarasota County resident John Munn, 60, who has used a generic steroid cream for his dry scalp for 27 years. But in the last three years, Munn says, his cost for the drug has soared from $23 to $126, even though no apparent research and development was done recently on the commonly-used drug.
“What makes me mad,” Munn said, “is that (drug companies) are no longer are providing a valuable service. They are taking advantage of the most vulnerable people.”
If you’ve got a prescription drug horror story, share it with 10News on Facebook. You can also read advice on how to mitigate some of the surging costs.
Wednesday night, 10Investigates digs into what drug companies are doing with their newfound revenues, and Thursday night, 10Investigates’ Mike Deeson will explore why Congre$$ may be so reluctant to fix the me$$.
Editor's note: Outrage over price increases of the life-saving EpiPen that jumped up 600 percent since 2007 prompted investigators at TEGNA Media TV stations to research other drugs with skyrocketing prices. Our investigative team spent months compiling a list of 100 prescription drugs, both brand name and generics, that have seen price increase over the past four years of anywhere between 70 and 12,000 percent.
The average price increase of the drugs on the TEGNA Media list is 400 percent. Our investigators chose drugs that have been around for years, that treat a variety of diseases and many of which are life-saving medications. We used federal data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC), to compile the list. More than half of the drugs on the list were FDA approved before 2002. At least a quarter of the drugs on our 100 list have been on the market for more than 25 years.”