TAMPA, Fla. - New pills prescribed to Cathy Scantlan for acid reflux didn't cost her much -- just a co-pay. But she's still outraged.
"I saw the piece of paper that said your insurance company paid $695 for this medication," she said, "and I just went ballistic."
As a nurse, Cathy knows that the high price tag paid by her insurance company will eventually trickle down to her as health care premiums rise every year. "There is opportunity for improvement in a system that allows this to happen," she said.
Carrollwood Compounding Center and Pharmacy owner Dan Fucarino agrees something has got to change. He says his cost to buy many generics started going up about six months ago.
He says Doxycycline, an antibiotic, went from $7 for 50 100 milligram pills to $155.
Desonide, a topical steroid lotion, went from $12 to $236.
And in many cases, he says, insurance companies aren't reimbursing him what he's forced to pay for the drug.
"A patient walks in with a prescription and we submit to the insurance company and on screen it tells us we're submitting a $150 drug and they're reimbursing us $12. I'm going to be reluctant to fill that prescription," Dan says.
He says the problem is driving small neighborhood pharmacies out of business and is also costing some of his clients who don't have prescription plans big money.
“At the end of the day this instability will affect the price to the consumer out the door," State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. of from South Florida says. He is sponsoring a bill he says will help keep the prices down and make sure pharmacists are reimbursed in a timely fashion at the current fair market rate. Which, he says, will trickle down to cost savings for consumers.
Industry experts suspect at least part of the reason for these soaring prices is that drug manufacturers are buying up their competition and basically becoming monopolies so they can set the prices anywhere they want.
This nurse says she can't bear any more. She switched to a cheaper alternative, saving herself and her insurance company money. “I don’t think that kind of pricing is something that should just be benign or ignored," she said.
We emailed or called four major pharmaceutical companies and have not heard back.
With prices increasing you need to shop around.
Prices vary dramatically from pharmacy to pharmacy. Ask about discount programs or alternative drugs that are cheaper.