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Drug Companies Hike Their Prices, Blame Everyone Else

It’s a pity there’s no miracle drug to help companies take responsibility for their actions. Despite efforts in Washington to curb drug costs, they’re on the rise again, putting further pressure on those with little or no insurance. The average price of prescription drugs rose a hefty 6.9% last year, according to Barclays Capital. U.S. underlying inflation rose 1.1% on the year in February.

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Sales of prescription medicine have now hit around $300 billion a year. The reason for the price hikes vary wildly, depending on who you ask. Drug companies blame R&D costs, while others admit they need to boost profits before drug patents expire. Most quietly sidestep the costs of their marketing and advertising when they get their product to market.

Prescription Policy Choices – a non-profit, non-partisan group aimed at improving access to effective, safe and affordable drugs – has another reason. It cites the influence of the relatively small but powerful band of “pharmacy benefit managers” who it says negotiate discounts and payments or “rebates” with drug manufacturers for increased sales of their most profitable medicines.

“While pharmacy benefit managers may play a role in reducing the cost of more expensive brand name drugs, both private and public health plans should compare those drugs for which rebates are offered, to recommended evidenced-based drugs proven to be as or more effective, safer and often much less expensive,” PPC executive director Ann Woloson tells Pay Dirt.

In their defense, pharmaceutical companies say the headline price rises don’t allow for these rebates and discounts they give, but The Wall Street Journal article quotes one analyst who says the hike in drug prices (up $58.96 per prescription between 2002 and 2009) dramatically outstrip the growth in these rebates (up just $12.57 in the same period).

Of those drugs surveyed by Barclays Capital investment bank, Benicar had the biggest price spike, rising 29.3% on the year in 2010. That drug, made by Daiichi Sankyo Co., is used to treat blood pressure, an ailment more common among the elderly or, you might say, those in society who can least afford such medicines and yet need them the most.

However, compounding this problem of drug affordability is the lack of adequate insurance. A report in the latest American Journal of Medicine published last week concluded that the percentage of personal bankruptcies related to medical bills or illness in Massachusetts hasn’t improved much since a 2006 law there requiring people to buy health insurance.

“Medical bankruptcy in Massachusetts: Has health reform made a difference?” surveyed bankruptcy filers in that state in 2009 and compared them with those from 2007. The answer to that question: no. Medical bankruptcies as a percentage of personal bankruptcies eased only slightly to 52.9% from 59.3%, which doesn’t bode well for the Obama administration’s healthcare reform.

Why this is worrying: Massachusetts has traditionally had fewer medical bankruptcies than the rest of the nation – where the rate hovers at around 62%, according to the authors of that study  – partly due to the state’s more robust social safety net, including public hospitals and free medical care for the poor predating the state’s most recent reform.

The research concludes that the least expensive individual coverage available to a 56-year-old Bostonian carries a premium of $5,616, a deductible of $2,000, and covers only 80% of the next $15,000 in costs for covered services. With Washington watching from the sidelines as drug prices soar, expect the situation to get worse before it gets better.

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    • By WebOsPublisher

      php – POST something to URL without a form? – Stack Overflow
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      POST something to URL without a form?
      up vote
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      Can I POST something to a URL and grab the result without a form and a submit button in PHP? If so, how does that work?
      Thanks,
      Ryan
      UPDATE
      After a lot of trial and error, I got it to working.
      I used the method described in the accepted answer, but what I had to do additionally before POSTing my code was:
      $html_body = str_replace(“\n”, “”, $html_body);
      $html_body = str_replace(“\t”, “”, $html_body);
      $html_body = urlencode($html_body);
      I had to add those for my purpose and you may not need them, but just keep it in mind.
      -Ryan
      php forms post
      share|improve this question
      edited
      Jan 14 ’11 at 1:18
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      Jan 13 ’11 at 20:48
      NightHawk
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      Yes, using JavaScript or by making a POST request using a PHP library, but it’s unsure whether that is of use for you. What is your exact situation? – Pekka Jan 13 ’11 at 20:50
      I have an internal stylesheet and some HTML. The third-party said to post all of that to their URL and they will inline everything (CSS). So I will be posting all of the code and get an inlined version in return. – NightHawk Jan 13 ’11 at 21:00
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      this is everything what should know about curl
      us2.php.net/manual/en/book.curl.php
      and this will POST without form as easy as:
      $ch = curl_init(“example.com/curl.php?option=test”);
      curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
      curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
      curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
      $output = curl_exec($ch);
      curl_close($ch);
      echo $output;
      share|improve this answer
      edited
      Mar 12 ’11 at 12:27
      answered
      Jan 13 ’11 at 20:53
      bensiu
      4,16161847
      So ‘test’ is the data I’m sending, right? If that data happens to be HTML/CSS code, how can I make sure the characters ($, =, etc) don’t mess up by being in a query-string? – NightHawk Jan 13 ’11 at 21:04
      Yes – you sending variable option what equal "test" – bensiu Jan 13 ’11 at 21:19
      feedback
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      This article lays out how to do a POST in PHP programmatically without a form. davidwalsh.name/execute-http-post-php-curl
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      Jan 13 ’11 at 20:49
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    • REPLY TO MITCHIf we inform poplee Obama,s hiding his records (so far) to keep the American popleefrom proving he is not a Citizen of the United States of America and thereforecannot be the President of the United States of America. Yes, I believe if we canconvince poplee to DEMAND the release of Obama,s Birth Certificate, as well ashis passports and his Collage papers, we will get rid of alot of TRASH!

    • Ha!! This article is proof how propaganda and things taken out of context enable reporters such as this one, to create hype, unnecessary concern, and dramatic news stories…

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      These types of stories, in my opinion, create more legal costs and attorney fees that then works against PROGRESS and Reform!

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.