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Pharmaceutical companies driving up prices of drugs, common doxycycline jumps from $20 to $3,000

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A drug commonly used to treat Lyme disease has skyrocketed in price from $20 to $3000 following a chronic shortage. The shortage is hitting just as Lyme disease the season starts.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Food and Drug Administration has already been warning, along with some pharmacists, that the drug doxycycline was running in short supply. This restriction of supply was causing the price to rise. Those initial warnings were issued in March, however since Lyme disease is rare at that time of year, the warnings faded from the media spotlight.

Now there is an acute shortage, as Lyme disease season arrives, and pharmacies are forced to charge as much as $3000 for 500 pills, a dosage that once cost only 20.

Lyme disease is a serious problem in the northeastern United States in some parts of the Midwest, and can occur in other places including spots along the West Coast. Lyme disease is carried by ticks and symptoms of the disease often mirror those of other illnesses making it difficult to diagnose. Lime disease can impact any organ of the body including the brain, muscles, and heart.

Despite the seriousness of the disease that it treats, doxycycline joins a number of other antibiotics that have fallen into short supply.

The root of the problem is that pharmaceutical companies have switched production to profit generating drugs as opposed to those that are most commonly prescribed by doctors. By restricting the supply of critical drugs, prices go up which improves the bottom line for pharmaceuticals.

It's quite simply, it's profits over lives.

Even everyday antibiotics sometimes run low on supply which causes price shocks. According to the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, more than 140 drugs commonly prescribed by doctors, fell into short supply in 2011.

There's no reason for this, other than profit.

Exacerbating the problem, is that the FDA has no power to compel manufacturers to make a particular drug. So if a pharmaceutical company wants to inflate prices of the widely used medication, they simply have to restrict supply. Or they can halt production altogether, and there is nothing the FDA can do.

Meanwhile, as common drugs that are essential to the preservation of human life run low, other drugs such as Viagra, and various weight loss supplements, and so on, remain common and cheap.

In the short term, experts advise that people take physical precautions to prevent contracting Lyme disease since the shortage isn't likely to be alleviated soon. People should limit or avoid exposure to environments where Lyme disease is common.

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