SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

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.

Getty Images

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.


We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (5 of 5)

View all Comments »
    • By WebOsPublisher

      php – POST something to URL without a form? – Stack Overflow
      Stack Exchange
      log in
      careers 2.0
      Stack Overflow
      Ask Question
      POST something to URL without a form?
      up vote
      down vote
      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?
      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.
      php forms post
      share|improve this question
      Jan 14 ’11 at 1:18
      Jan 13 ’11 at 20:48
      96% accept rate
      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
      2 Answers
      up vote
      down vote
      this is everything what should know about curl
      and this will POST without form as easy as:
      $ch = curl_init(“”);
      curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
      curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
      curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
      $output = curl_exec($ch);
      echo $output;
      share|improve this answer
      Mar 12 ’11 at 12:27
      Jan 13 ’11 at 20:53
      So ‘test’ is the data I’m sending, right? If that data happens to be HTML/CSS code, how can I make sure the characters ($, =, 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
      up vote
      down vote
      This article lays out how to do a POST in PHP programmatically without a form.
      share|improve this answer
      Jan 13 ’11 at 20:49
      Geoffrey Wagner
      Your Answer
      draft saved
      draft discarded
      log in
      required, but never shown
      Home Page
      By posting your answer, you agree to the
      privacy policy and
      terms of service.
      Not the answer you’re looking for?
      Browse other questions tagged php forms post
      or ask your own question.
      Hello World!
      This is a collaboratively edited question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. It’s 100% free, no registration required.
      about » faq »
      php × 311392
      forms × 24324
      post × 8859
      1 year ago
      1081 times
      1 year ago
      Community Bulletin
      Meet the new additions to the Stack Exchange clan
      Posting parameters to a url using the POST method without using a form
      POST to a form that POSTS to another form
      PHP form values after POST
      cURL how post this form correctly?
      PHP form will not post
      form POST + direct. Not posting
      Referrer URL from facebook form POST
      Encrypting/Decrypting a POST form
      White Screen on form post
      Why is the post not coming through on a PHP form Post
      form POST erases the view
      Javascript get form value in URL without jQuery
      Post value is in form empty
      How can I include a form field in my POST if it is not in the current form?
      String variable obtained via php _$post from html form seems to be getting erased
      How to show ‘success’ message on form submit without changing URL?
      How to use “ if(!empty($_POST[' … ']))$… = ‘-’; ”?
      Form POST issue
      HTML form POST not getting transfered into php $_POST
      html dropdown form post to php
      GET parameter in a POST <form>
      Post request in PHP to form
      how to send messageid through form post without using name and value php
      POST Data Without Form
      Submit POST form from url
      question feed
      about |
      faq |
      blog |
      chat |
      data |
      legal |
      privacy policy |
      jobs |
      advertising info |
      mobile |
      contact us
      | feedback
      ■ api/apps
      ■ careers 2.0
      ■ meta
      ■ area 51
      ■ webapps
      ■ gaming
      ■ ubuntu
      ■ webmasters
      ■ cooking
      ■ game development
      ■ math
      ■ photography
      ■ stats
      ■ tex
      ■ english
      ■ theoretical cs
      ■ programmers
      ■ unix
      ■ apple
      ■ wordpress
      ■ physics
      ■ home improvement
      ■ gis
      ■ electrical engineering
      ■ android
      ■ security
      ■ bicycles
      ■ dba
      ■ drupal
      ■ sharepoint
      ■ scifi $ fantasy
      ■ user experience
      ■ skeptics
      ■ rpg
      ■ judaism
      ■ mathematica
      rev 2012.12.7.545
      site design / logo © 2012 stack exchange inc;
      user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required
      Stack Overflow works best with JavaScript enabled

    • By WebOsPublisher

      Apply Key icons. Images of Apply Key icon from different collections
      Apply Key Icons
      Icon list
      Apply Key Icons
      You can purchase these icon images for your projects. Click on icons to purchase them.
      Apply key Security Toolbar Icons
      Apply key Security Software Icons
      Home | Products | Downloads | Order | Icons | Support
      Copyright © 2005-2012 Icon Empire. All rights reserved.
      Stock Icon Packs
      People Icons for Vista
      Perfect Toolbar Icons
      Business Toolbar Icons
      Database Toolbar Icons
      Multimedia Icons for Vista

    • By WebOsPublisher

      Twitter Icon of the Day
      .slb-currentblog-bg {
      background-color: #264F63;
      color: #264F63;
      a.slb-currentblog-clr:active, a.slb-currentblog-clr:hover {
      color: #264F63;
      .slb-currentblog-logo-large {
      background:url(‘/content/slate/blogs/weigel/jcr:content/sprite.gif’) no-repeat 0px -92px;
      .slb-currentblog-logo-small {
      background:url(‘/content/slate/blogs/weigel/jcr:content/sprite.gif’) no-repeat -90px -167px;
      .slb-currentblog-twit-header {
      background:url(‘/content/slate/blogs/weigel/jcr:content/sprite.gif’) no-repeat 0 0;
      .slb-currentblog-skybox {
      background: url(‘/content/slate/blogs/weigel/jcr:content/sprite.gif’) no-repeat scroll -1px -7px;
      display: block;
      .slb-currentblog-tag {
      background: url(‘/content/slate/blogs/weigel/jcr:content/sprite.gif’) no-repeat scroll -9px -7px;
      display: block;
      height: 78px;
      width: 128px;
      border: solid 1px #ccc;
      .slb-currentblog-defaultimg {
      background: url(‘/content/slate/blogs/weigel/jcr:content/sprite.gif’) no-repeat scroll 0 -167px;
      display: block;
      var wp_meta_data = {“authors”:["David Weigel"],”contentType”:”blog”,”page_id”:”200101001003″,”keywords”:””,”section”:”News and Politics”,”rubric”:”Blog”};
      SG_Debug && SG_Debug.pagedebug && window.console && console.log && console.log(‘[' + (new Date()-SG_Debug.initialTime)/1000 + ']‘ + ‘ Bottom of head.jsp’);
      News & Politics
      Health & Science
      Double X
      Reporting on Politics and Policy
      Barney Frank In A Corner
      NEWER »
      Haley Barbour: NRSC Should Stay Out of Primaries
      Twitter Icon of the Day
      David Weigel
      Friday, Oct. 1, 2010, at 10:24 AM ET
      Save this story.
      Follow all Blog articles.
      Follow the Weigel blog.
      Follow stories by David Weigel.
      MySlate is a new tool that lets you track your favorite parts of Slate. You can follow authors and sections, track comment threads you’re interested in, and more.
      It’s the one belonging to
      Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.)
      , the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and the man with the dozens-of-subpoenas-plan if the GOP wins Congress.
      Microsoft Paint: One of many cost-cutting measures that a responsible Republican Party can bring to Washington.
      Want more of your favorite content on the MSN homepage?
      Try the news, sports or entertainment editons.
      Your Facebook Friends will see
      that you’ve read this article.
      Don’t show me this box again.
      Shhh. Don’t let
      my friends know I read this article.
      Barney Frank In A Corner
      NEWER »
      Haley Barbour: NRSC Should Stay Out of Primaries
      border-top:1px dotted #666;
      border-bottom:1px dotted #666;
      display: none;
      margin-bottom: -5px;
      padding-bottom: 8px;
      TED Organizers Warn Community about Bad Science in Some Talks
      PSY Releases Statement About Past Protests
      A Great Twitter Feed Devoted to Obnoxious Philly Sports Fans
      Click here to load comments.
      « PREV
      NEXT »
      Burns and Haberman
      David Frum
      Dylan Byers
      Ezra Klein’s House of Wonk
      Hit & Run
      Hot Air
      Jim Geraghty
      Julian Sanchez
      Matthew “Moneybox” Yglesias
      Megan McArdle
      Political Punch
      The Plum Line
      Rorty Bomb
      Discover Slate With Your Friends
      See what your friends are reading and automatically share
      how you’re browsing Slate. You control what gets published
      to your Facebook News Feed.
      Social Reading is
      Turn ON
      Turn OFF

      < newer |
      older >
      To temporarily turn off
      Social Reading, toggle the social reading button to OFF at
      the top of this box or in the toolbar areas of this page.
      This will allow you to see what your friends have read but
      won’t show your reading activity on Slate.
      notify me when I’ve shared an article.
      To enable Social Reading on Slate, log into…

      Cancel | 
      The Hobbit Looks Like Teletubbies, Lasts an Eternity
      By Dana Stevens |
      December 7, 2012
      TED Organizers Warn Community about Bad Science in Some Talks
      By Phil Plait |
      December 7, 2012
      The Particular Tragedy of Autistic Girls
      By Hanna Rosin |
      December 7, 2012
      Is the Supreme Court Ready To OK Gay Marriage?
      By Emily Bazelon |
      December 7, 2012
      Royal Pregnancy Prank Followed By Suicide
      By Josh Voorhees |
      December 7, 2012
      TED Organizers Warn Community about Bad Science in Some Talks
      By Phil Plait |
      December 7, 2012
      PSY Releases Statement About Past Protests
      By David Haglund |
      December 7, 2012
      A Great Twitter Feed Devoted to Obnoxious Philly Sports Fans
      By David Weigel |
      December 7, 2012
      More Hipsters Are Hunting, and That’s Great for the Environment
      By Emma Marris |
      December 5, 2012
      Is the Supreme Court Ready To OK Gay Marriage?
      By Emily Bazelon |
      December 7, 2012
      PSY Tries To Explain His Past U.S.-Bashing Protests
      There’s Nothing Original About Malibu Country. Maybe That’s Why It’s Doing So Well.
      Do Cats Ever Murder People?
      Emily Bazelon’s Excellent TED Talk on the Tragedy of Autistic Girls Will Make You Cry
      How Buying an Obscenely Expensive Pair of Shoes Changes You
      Unwitting Accomplice in Radio Station’s Royal Prank Found Dead, Suicide Suspected
      about us |
      contact us |
      User Agreement |
      Privacy Policy |
      Slate on Facebook |
      ad choicesfeedback |
      help |
      advertise |
      newsletters |
      mobile |
      make Slate your homepage
      Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Division of the Washington Post Company
      All contents © 2012 The Slate Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
      var appkey = “”;
      var baseDomainName = “”;
      var mySlateDomainName = “”;
      var batchComments = document.createElement(‘script’);
      batchComments.type = ‘text/javascript’;
      batchComments.async = true;
      batchComments.src = ‘/etc/designs/slate/js/echo/slateBatchCommentCount.js’;
      //apply a border to the longer element
      $(document).ready(function() {
      var main = $(“.sl-main-section”);
      var rail = $(“.sl-right-rail”);
      SG_Debug && SG_Debug.pagedebug && window.console && console.log && console.log(‘[' + (new Date()-SG_Debug.initialTime)/1000 + ']‘ + ‘ Bottom of footer-scripts.jsp’);

    • 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…

      I’ll be booking my D.C. trip and scream SLANDER on capital hill, because these erroneous accusations could result in loss of revenue and business!! If these companies are fully registered and supported by the DEA, I do not have any idea why the blame insn’t shifted to the correct entity.

      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 or tweet @SMPayDirt.