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BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

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Big Pharma spent $8 million on lobbying during first quarter of 2018

Drug maker spending on lobbying shows biggest jump Lawmakers have made lowering drug prices a key pledge to consumers. So maybe it’s no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry has increased its spending on lobbying to change hearts and minds in the halls of Congress. Drug makers spent $8 million during the first quarter of 2018,…

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Drug cost rises 100,000 percent

Drug’s high cost drains city coffers and the Illinois mayor plans to sue Rockford, Illinois, mayor Larry Morrissey set out to understand why his city was bleeding money. The answer: one drug’s high cost. The city pays for employee health care. To cover the cost of Acthar, which treats infantile spasms, for just two babies,…

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Hospital can make big money from disease management classes

Consumers, be sure to check the price before you sign up On its face, it makes sense. Invest in a class to help manage a chronic condition like diabetes. But a Georgia man attended two half-day sessions at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, Ga., and was shocked to get a bill for $1,044. Such classes…

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Pharmaceutical companies block access to some brand-name drugs, meaning no lower-cost generic for you

Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to provide samples of their products to generic drug companies can keep those less-expensive versions from being developed, according to the New York Times. The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating what Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, calls drug makers’ “shenanigans,” which “preserve a brand firm’s…

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Drug companies see a big tax windfall, but consumers don’t get relief

An analysis of the top 10 US drug makers shows savings went to stock buybacks rather than reducing the soaring cost of medications Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Nearly 1 in 4 Americans say they have a hard time paying for their prescription medications. And it’s not news to the pharmaceutical industry, either….

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Parents tried to avoid the ER but ended up with a $937 bill to treat baby’s toe

If the pediatrician’s office is closed and urgent care doesn’t have pediatric expertise, the expensive ER is the only option The Sroka family needed help to treat a cut on their 1-year-old daughter’s toe. The pediatrician’s office was closed, and dad’s doctor didn’t have the right expertise for little toes. So, the local emergency room…

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Woman diagnosed with toenail fungus, doesn’t realize $1,494.09 monthly cost for medication until it’s too late

Anne Soloviev has a heightened risk for skin cancer, so she is diligent about seeing her dermatologist twice a year. During her most recent visit in January, a nurse noted some discoloration on the 77-year-old’s toenails. Tests on a few clippings confirmed she had a toenail fungus. Soloviev was given a prescription to be filled…

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California’s drug price transparency law offers first look at what’s driving big increases

Oregon’s governor signed a new law in late March requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose information they’ve long kept secret. They’ll have to reveal research and development costs, profits and marketing expenses whenever they raise the price of a drug more than 10 percent a year. California was the first state in the nation to adopt…

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Which industry exercises the strongest lobbying influence in our nation’s capital? Big Pharma among the top contenders

Americans think pharmaceutical drug-makers hold too much power over their elected leaders in Congress. A recent poll for the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72 percent of U.S. consumers think the drug industry has too much sway in D.C. and in law and policymaking. In contrast, 69 percent felt the powerbrokers on Wall Street enjoyed…

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Why does the U.S. spend more for health care than other wealthy countries? Simple answer: Our prices are higher

American consumers spend almost twice as much for health care as their counterparts in other wealthy countries. Why? A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a simple but hardly surprising answer: The costs of seeing your doctor, undergoing a procedure or taking a pharmaceutical drug are substantially higher in…

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U.S. government and 45 states claim collusion among generic drug-makers. The cost to consumers and taxpayers? Perhaps more than $1 billion

We all assume that generic medications are lower-cost alternatives to brand name medications. But what if they aren’t? Or what if the cost of a generic is artificially high because of collusion? Both are questions that 45 states and the U.S. Department of Justice are asking the court to take on. National Public Radio reports…

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Big Pharma doesn’t just buy doctors’ lunches, industry writes their textbooks

Most consumers have never heard of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a bulky, two-volume textbook that is in its 20th edition. Chances are, however, most of us have been affected by what’s inside. That’s because Harrison’s is a must-read for medical students and young internists. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)…

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Generic drugs approved in record numbers. Increased competition could drive down costs

Generic medications are often a great way to save money on prescriptions. And in 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved 1,027 generic drugs – a record. Those approvals push the generics to market, which increases competition and can help drive down prices. “Drug access is a matter of public health concern,” FDA Commissioner Scott…

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Pharma spends $50 billion tax windfall to lower costs? Not even close.

Pharmaceutical industry will dedicate windfall to boosting stock prices Turns out, they’re helping themselves. Nine drug companies are spending their $50 billion windfall to boost stock prices through share buyback programs, according to Axios. So rather than invest in helping employees or patients or even research, that money is boosting hedge funds and top executives….

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Oregonians! Your Voice is needed now to rein in rising prescription drug prices

The Oregon Legislature is considering House Bill 4005, which would require pharmaceutical companies to justify to the state why they need to raise the price of a prescription medication more than 10 percent a year. As expected, Big Pharma’s lobbyists are fighting hard to keep the bill from making it into law. But Oregonians are…

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People are talking: Pharmaceutical companies want you to think they’re holding the line on prices, but consumers aren’t buying it

It’s become a tradition. Many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies celebrate the new year by raising prices on existing medications. This year, drug makers wanted American consumers to know that they are “holding the line”… which means most price increases were held below 10 percent. But the Voices for Affordable Health community didn’t let…

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Big Pharma launches secretive campaign to kill Oregon drug transparency bill

How far will the pharmaceutical industry go to protect its giant profits? An investigation by the Eugene (Oregon) Register Guard reveals pharmaceutical interests are using a Virginia calling firm and a false narrative in order to kill House Bill 4005, a proposal pending in the Oregon Legislature that would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to report big…

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Oregon coalition pushes for drug price transparency as Legislature convenes

As the skyrocketing prices of medication continues to be an ongoing source of outrage in the U.S. and in Oregon, a coalition of patients, doctors, consumers and others want to hold drug companies accountable by making drug prices more transparent. Oregonians for Affordable Drug Prices Now is backing Oregon House Bill 4005, the Oregon Drug…

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Unused medical supplies tossed in the trash and the cost passed on to you

Picture this: A warehouse the size of a middle school gym, filled to the brim with unopened boxes of surgical sutures, bandages and other medical supplies – all brand new and all thrown away by a local medical facility. Marshall Allen, a reporter for the investigative journalism organization ProPublica, wrote about this Maine warehouse and…

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Maryland fights Rx price gouging (again). Proposed new law tackles high costs of brand name, specialty medications

Thousands of Americans take specialty medications for conditions from multiple sclerosis to HIV/AIDS to hepatitis C and more. But the annual cost of treatment with just one of those drugs can top $50,000 a year, according to a 2017 study by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Maryland is fighting back. Fresh off its first-in-the-nation law…

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Tips for reducing your out-of-pocket health care costs

We all know that health care costs continue to rise dramatically. But this should never deter you from getting the treatment you need. Consumer Reports outlined nine ways you can take control of your health care spending and reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Here are a few to consider: Tip 1: Comparison shop for your care…

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$38,000 drug Humira continues to get more expensive for patients, lines the pockets of pharma

Remember the story of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that spiked the price of the drug Daraprim overnight from $13.50 to $750? The same thing is happening for popular anti-inflammatory drug Humira, as reported by the New York Times. Humira is an injectable biologic drug, which means it was developed from living cells. It treats conditions…

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No surprise: Drug makers still making plenty of money

Big Pharma wants you to think they’re making a sacrifice by keeping price increases under 10 percent. Drug makers celebrated the New Year by raising U.S. prices on dozens of medications. Predictable? Yes. But Big Pharma also was very careful to hold price increases to just below 10 percent, low enough, they hope, to keep…

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Increased spending doesn’t mean better health outcomes for heart attack patients, study shows

A new report published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that increased Medicare spending for treatment of heart attack patients does not result in better health outcomes. The JAMA study details that while Medicare spending on cardiac procedures and post-acute care increased, the death rates for heart attack patients stayed the…

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How to become health literate and avoid unnecessary costs

A great way to stay on top of your health care costs is to understand what you’re talking about. Medline Plus reports that more than 90 million adults in the United States lack “health literacy.”   Health literacy is the ability to obtain, access and understand health information and use services to make appropriate health…

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Four tips for negotiating a better deal on medical bills

How to get the best deal on medical bills In the maze of medical bills, it’s hard to know if costs are fair or even accurate. Here are four tips for making sure you are getting the best deal on medical bills from Liz Weston, a financial columnist for the Los Angeles Times: 1: Make…

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Why Big Pharma spent big dollars in 2016

How Big Pharma tried to silence the conversation about high drug prices with lobbying NPR reported that both sides of the political spectrum were concerned about high drug prices in 2016, so Big Pharma spent millions lobbying to silence the conversation. Big Pharma’s lobbying group, PhRMA, ramped up their political spending. Recent filings show that number…

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Treating parasites not profitable enough for Big Pharma

Why parasite treatment costs pennies in Tanzania, but hundreds of dollars in the U.S. It’s not difficult to treat a hookworm. Whether you live in Tanzania or Texas, two pills will kill the intestinal parasite in a few days. Those same two tablets of albendazole will cost a mere four cents purchased in Tanzania, but…

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Voices’ top five posts about prescription drug costs in 2017

When we asked about prescription drug costs, 93 percent of you said they are too high. Here’s a look at the most popular Voices Facebook posts on high drug costs based on your clicks, likes and shares.   1. Big Pharma justifies high drug prices, fails The pharmaceutical industry recently launched a major advertising campaign…

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Our top five posts about surprise hospital bills in 2017

The last thing anybody wants to think about when visiting the hospital is the cost. It gets worse when the bill arrives months later with surprising charges you weren’t prepared for. Here were Voices’ top five surprise hospital bill posts, based on your comments, clicks and shares.   1. Surprise facility fees From 2009 to…

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Non-profit hospitals recognize substantial profits from investments

Why should consumers care? Because costs passed on to you Many hospitals do not pay taxes because they are classified as “non-profit.” Yet an analysis by Axios, an online news site, finds some so-called “non-profit” hospitals actually turn a healthy profit, particularly when their Wall Street investments, stocks, bonds, credit default swaps, mergers and acquisitions…

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Multi-tasking surgeons put patients as risk

New study shows danger of overlapping surgeries Doctors who oversee overlapping surgeries at the same time have nearly twice the complications of those who focus on one surgery at a time, according to a recent study. Researchers found the longer the overlap between the two surgeries, the higher the risk. This large-scale study looked at…

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Consumers want action on rising Rx prices

An open letter to Congress We asked you to share your voices, and thousands spoke! It’s clear – our health care system has a problem, and our elected leaders need to act. We told you we would share your stories to put the pressure on politicians, and that’s exactly what we did. We gathered together…

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ER spending way up, even as number of visits is down

What is going on? A new report uncovers a troubling trend: Spending on emergency rooms increased by $3 billion from 2009 to 2015. However, the actual number of hospital bills fell. It is more expensive to visit an emergency room today than it was six years ago, Vox reports. Why is this happening? The problem…

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Have you heard the news? Drug prices are too high

New National Academies of Science report urges action to reduce Rx costs The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio and other mainstream media buzzed about a new, 201-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that found an “urgent” need for the U.S. government to rein in out-of-control prescription drug costs. “Consumer…

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Big Pharma consistently raises the price of required childhood vaccine

Formula hasn’t changed in years, but the cost sure has Every November Pfizer, an international pharmaceutical giant, raises the price for the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13. The company is the only producer. “It’s like buying gas in a hurricane — or Coke in an airport,” Dr. Lindsay Irvin, a pediatrician in San Antonio told KHN…

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Doctor charges family $1,877 to pierce daughter’s ears

What this bizarre case says about the epidemic of unnecessary treatments Just before her 5-year-old daughter went in for a simple surgery, the surgeon made Margaret O’Neill a strange offer: He’d also pierce the girl’s ears. The Colorado resident was hesitant because her daughter was quite young, but she eventually relented when the surgeon told…

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Seniors, are you spending more for prescription drugs?

You’re not alone. Check out the latest numbers. Source: Kaiser Health News In 2015, 1 million Medicare Part D enrollees had high out-of-pocket drug costs. And 1 in 10 spent at least $5,200 out of pocket on their prescription drugs in 2015.

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Diabetes treatment costs continue to skyrocket

Consumers bear the burden for diabetes costs The global cost of diabetes is expected to hit $850 billion for 2017, according to a new report from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Yes, that’s billion. This represents 12 percent of all global health expenditures. The Foundation says costs will continue to increase – even the most…

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Ambulance rides often stick patients with high bills

When it comes to surprise medical bills, ambulances are often the most shocking Roman Barshay had a bad fall while visiting out-of-town friends. Suffering chest and back pains, he took an ambulance to a hospital four miles away. Barshay was in for a nasty surprise — a bill for $3,660 just for the ambulance ride….

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Liquid gold: Urine testing makes millions for some companies. Guess who’s paying for it?

Urine testing is big business, and we’re all paying for it because Medicare is paying for it. In fact, the program is writing multi million-dollar checks to the companies that perform the lab tests. And it’s a problem because, as Kaiser Health News (KHN) puts it, “there are virtually no national standards regarding who gets…

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Should you get your DNA tested?

FDA plans to make DNA testing approvals faster and easier, but is this good for consumers? Personal DNA testing is rapidly becoming more common. You can even get your DNA tested at a football game. The – with one big caveat. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated that the tests are “not without their own risks…

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Annual U.S. health care spending rose nearly $1 trillion since 1996

What’s driving it, and who is hardest hit? Spending for health care in the United States is higher than any other country – and rising. That’s according to an investigation published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The JAMA article is free for anyone who wants to download and dwell in the data….

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Can Congress pass a bill designed to reduce ‘Colossal and completely preventable waste’ of drugs?

Some drug companies knowingly sell expensive treatments in doses too large for individual needs. That results in wasted drugs and dollars. And it’s a problem that two lawmakers are trying to address after reading a report from ProPublica. Consider eye drops: Whether it’s an expensive glaucoma treatment or an over-the-counter dry eye solution, every time…

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Unnecessary lab tests can do more harm than good

So what’s being done? We’ll start with a disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor about when and how often to have lab tests. But here’s something to keep in mind: Many of us are over-tested. And that’s bad for two important reasons: 1) Lab tests are expensive, and the costs add up. 2) Over-testing can…

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Congress considers bill to reduce pharmaceutical industry influence at FDA and DEA

Senators demand crackdown on pharmaceutical industry hiring regulatory officials A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate takes aim at a common practice of many pharmaceutical companies – hiring former officials from both the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration. The practice undermines “the safety of our communities,” co-sponsor Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.,…

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Hospital safety: The more we know, the safer they are

New hospital safety ratings by watchdog group Leapfrog suggest the more information hospitals are required to reveal about injuries, accidents and infections, the more likely they are to provide safer care. Leapfrog was started by employers and unions calling for more information about patient safety and quality of care. Their ratings include reviews of 2,600…

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The hidden dangers of buying prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies

Many are considering buying prescriptions from Canada, but is that safe? Looking for alternatives to high-priced prescriptions, many frustrated consumers have looked at options outside the United States, but a letter to the editor by the Food and Drug Administration raises several concerns about the safety of this practice. Earlier this year, Voices reported as…

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Insulin costs spike 240 percent. Did drug makers collude?

People managing their diabetes have watched helplessly as insulin costs have skyrocketed in recent years. Many consumers have faced a terrible choice between paying $400 or more for a vial of the same lifesaving drug that cost $200 a few years ago or going without. Kaiser Health News reports that regulators in at least five…

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“It’s disturbing to think that I might have been over-treated”

Annie Dennison of Orange County, Calif., is one of millions of consumers realizing that they could have been over-medicated and overcharged for treatment of their conditions. When Dennison, 55, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she followed her doctor’s advice: lumpectomy surgery, chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation treatments. She tells Kaiser Health…

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What a $629 Band-Aid reveals about U.S. health care

A family brought their daughter into the emergency room, received a Band-Aid and were sent home. Then, they received a bill with a total charge of $629.

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Asking questions about prescriptions protects your elderly loved ones

If you have elderly relatives living in a nursing home, Nuedexta investigation demonstrates why asking questions about prescriptions is important.

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Big Pharma’s eye-opening secret

If you’ve ever used eye drops, you’ve probably wondered why much of the liquid spills out of your eyes on to your face. NPR reveals the reason: Big Pharma makes eye drops too large. Not a big deal with inexpensive eye drops, but some specialty eye drops, such as those used for glaucoma, can cost…

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Get ready: Gene therapy is effective, expensive

What if doctors could reverse blindness or even cure a rare disease with a single shot? Gene therapy is closer than we think.

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People are talking: Are politicians finally ready to address rising prescription drug prices?

We highlight attempts in the U.S. Congress and the state of California to hold Big Pharma accountable for skyrocketing prescription drug prices.

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Little-known perks for Congress: Dedicated doctors and a pharmacy that delivers

Members of Congress don’t have to rush out to the pharmacy when they get the sniffles. They just call Grubb’s, which has made deliveries to the U.S. Capitol.

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Coalition urges Congress to stop Big Pharma from blocking development of lower cost generics

Help stop big Pharma through supporting the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act.

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Five ways Big Pharma explains rising drug prices and why you shouldn’t believe them

Learn about the five ways Big Pharma excuses rising drug prices and why you shouldn’t believe them.

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Dialysis corporations are growing their profits at your expense

Large corporations are taking advantage of their market share to amass big profits.

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U.S. Senate Health Committee investigating high prescription drug costs

After taking the summer off, the U.S. Senate Health Committee has resumed its look at skyrocketing prescription drug costs.

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Was your physician’s clinic recently sold? Here’s how it might affect you

If a local hospital recently bought your physician’s practice, chances are the costs of your treatment will go up. The intent behind hospital/physician consolidation was to achieve better coordination and care for patients. However, some experts think consolidation reduces competition, resulting in higher prices. Research from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health shows that total…

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Why did a pharmaceutical giant transfer patents to a Native American tribe? Profits.

The Allergan deal stunned many, who fear that other companies with highly profitable blockbuster drugs will follow the company’s example.

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Choose a restaurant or hotel based on online reviews, maybe not your doctor

Online reviews definitely help narrow the options for the best Thai food in town, but they’re not a good way to find the right doctor. That’s what researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles discovered when they compared online reviews of medical specialists posted on five popular websites to an internal set of quality…

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The real cost of developing a cutting-edge cancer drug is much less, than Big Pharma claims

“Policymakers can safety take steps to rein in drug prices without fear of jeopardizing innovation'”

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Cancer survivors more likely to skip their prescription drugs due to high costs

Have you skipped a prescription refill when costs were too high?

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15 years, still no low-cost generic option for this best-selling arthritis drug. Why?

Mike Fuller, chairman of a biotech practice group at the law firm Knobbe Martens, says it’s not surprising that AbbVie would do everything possible to protect its $16 billion cash cow; every month’s a “good month that you’re on the market alone.”

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New Jersey moving to limit big payments from Big Pharma to doctors prescribing opioids

The state’s top prescribers of fentanyl, an opioid, had also collectively received more than $1 million from the drug’s manufacturer from 2013 to 2015.

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We don’t repair our car without an estimate. Why don’t we demand the same with health care?

How much will it cost? We ask that before starting repairs on our homes or cars. But most of us don’t ask about the price before a medical procedure or test.

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Here’s why you might want to record your doctor’s visit

Maybe you’ve had this happen: You’re sharing details of a recent doctor’s appointment and stumble on a key point. Did the doctor say we should reassess in six months? Or six weeks? If only you could replay the conversation. You can, if you record your doctor’s appointment on your smart phone or other device. It…

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1 in 5 treated in a hospital emergency room get a “surprise” bill later

After slipping on wet leaves outside her home, Debra Brown sought treatment for a broken ankle at her local hospital’s emergency room. Her health insurance covered most of the hospital bill, but Brown was shocked to receive a separate statement from the physician who never introduced himself and only briefly looked at her ankle. That…

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Groundbreaking leukemia drug comes with budget-busting price tag

Norvartis just announced they would charge $475,000 per treatment.

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If retirement is in your future, check out how much you’ll need to sock away for health care

Thinking of retiring soon? Get ready. Your-post retirement health costs may run as high as $275,000

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Telemedicine could save time, money, lives

“Because telemedicine is cheaper and more convenient for patients in remote areas,” he says, “they are more likely to seek medical care.”

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EpiPen maker with pay $465 million for overcharging Medicaid (That means you, taxpayer!)

“This announcement puts drug manufacturers on notice that CMS remains vigilant in our duty to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program.”

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Medication costs are rising, even for older and generic drugs

“People always thought, ‘They’re generics. They’re cheap.’ ”

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Prices for opioid overdose drug rise with demand

Are pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of the opioid crisis to make big profits?

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Too early for a mammogram? New recommendations push screening to age 50 for those at low risk of breast cancer

While mammograms are often critical for early detection of breast cancer, updated recommendations by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urge doctors and patients to consider pushing the screenings to age 50 for women who are at low risk for the disease.

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How much you pay for a hearing device might not align with how well you hear

About 30 million Americans have age-related hearing loss, but only one-quarter use hearing aids.

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Health care cost information is out there. Why don’t we use it?

Consumers say they want to know how much medical procedures will cost, but many of us don’t take the time to use available price transparency tools.

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Try our new cutting-edge treatment! (But don’t ask us how much it costs.)

Many hospitals and health care companies are excited to promote the latest, greatest medical procedures and devices, but they’re not as interested in sharing how much they cost. Bob Herman, a health care business reporter for Axios, reviewed hospital press releases and newsletters and discovered a trend: The information on new procedures and devices was…

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Why can’t you find out how much your surgery will cost?

Most of us would like to know how much a medical test or surgical procedure is going to cost before it’s done. Unfortunately, that kind of information is difficult, if not impossible, to find. Consider what’s happening in Ohio. The state Legislature passed one of the most stringent health care cost transparency laws in the…

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Is Congress (finally) getting serious about soaring prescription drug prices?

You might not have seen it on the network news, but some in Congress are talking about how to combat rising prescription drug prices. In late July, the Antitrust Subcommittee of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee discussed how to keep pharmaceutical companies from blocking the manufacture and sale of less-expensive generic medications. Under current Food…

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Health care costs continue to rise at unsustainable rate

A new report projecting 2018 health care cost trends contains both good news and bad news for U.S. consumers. The good news: Double-digit percentage increases in  health care costs have subsided. The bad news: Costs are still expected to rise by 6.5 percent in 2018. That’s higher than the Consumer Price Index, which is projected…

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Maryland fights back against price hikes on common drugs

“Say what?!” It’s the likely reaction from patients when they hear that a drug they’ve used for years suddenly jumps in price without warning or a good reason from the drug company. And it’s a big problem that Maryland lawmakers agreed to battle with legislation allowing the state’s attorney general to go after companies that…

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People are talking: Medications cost too much

People are talking: IlaMae’s story stikes a chord

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A cup of tea a day to keep dementia away? It might just work.

Drinking tea may lower your risk of dementia, even for those with a family history of the disease. That’s according to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. The study, in Harvard Men’s Health Watch, followed 957 older adults, 69 percent of whom drink tea regularly. Researchers found 50 percent…

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Performing two surgeries at once isn’t against the rules. Should it be?

Doctors doubling-up on surgeries isn’t a new practice. It’s happened in teaching hospitals for years. But some doctors say it’s time to put an end to “running two operating rooms,” citing potential risks to patients.

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Rare disease patients wait (and wait) for the FDA to catch up on the drug review process

Orphan drug review requests doubled from 2012 to 2016, contributing to a delay in orphan drug designations. How full is the FDA in-box? More than 200 orphan drug designation requests are at least 120 days old.

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The health care fix? Listening, truly listening, to patients

Cancer patient advocate Grace Cordovano wants medical schools to teach young doctors to see the health care experience through their patients’ eyes. How? Cordovano challenges medical schools to invite patients for regular story-sharing sessions and, “not just for a photo-op.” “My dearest medical schools, you need to change the lens your students are looking through…

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Big Pharma prioritizes profits over patients. Here’s proof:

Pharmaceutical companies say they must raise the cost of your prescription drugs to pay for the research and development (R&D) of cutting-edge medications. But you are not the No. 1 priority. Shareholders are. A new study reveals the United States has the highest drug prices in the world because drug companies spend billions of dollars…

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7 questions to ask when prescribed an opioid pain medication

Opioids are commonly prescribed to manage pain following surgery, injury or illness. Nearly one-third of all Medicare patients received at least one prescription for opioids in 2015.

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$5,000 for a drug urine test? We all pay the price

In many Florida “sober homes,” addicts receive poor treatment while their insurance companies are forced to pay inflated bills. The only winner? The “sober home owner,” who cares more about profits than patient care.

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Government watchdog says U.S. taxpayers were grossly overcharged for EpiPen

U.S. taxpayers paid as much as $1.27 billion for the emergency allergy treatment under Medicaid Drug Rebate Program rules.

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New study: Women hit hard by opioid addiction

A new federal study documents the toll the misuse of opioid medications is taking on Americans. Opioids are commonly prescribed to manage pain following surgery, injury or illness. If not used with great care, they can become addictive, with some patients turning to heroin and other illegal or unregulated drugs when prescriptions run out. The…

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Ex-Pharma sales rep takes new role to help educate doctors about drug costs

New York-based insurer, Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, has hired former Big Pharma drug reps to educate doctors about expensive prescriptions

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Questions about cancer? Just call or email

For 40 years the U.S. government has operated a helpline, the National Cancer Institute Contact Information Service, to answer people’s questions about cancer.

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Another reason to urge kids to go out and play

The time children spend on the playground or engaged in sports isn’t just fun – it produces real health and economic benefits, too.

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ER doctors have little sense of cost of care they provide

If you or a loved one had to visit a hospital emergency room, would you have any sense of what your care might cost? Neither do most doctors and nurses.

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Most doctors don’t discuss cancer treatment costs with patients

Most doctors spent fewer than two minutes talking about the cost of treatment with their patients, a new study finds.

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$371 for a wrinkle cream? Yep. Price increases with prescription

Heidi Godman got a huge surprise when she tried to fill a prescription for a vitamin A-based cream her dermatologist recommended.

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TV ads push prescription drug sales

Marketing, not research, continues to drive pharmaceutical sales and create best-sellers, Kaiser Health News reports.

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Have you received a surprise hospital bill?

Pat Bracken was shocked to receive a $600 bill from the emergency room doctor who treated her husband.

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Price for asthma drug jumps 1,000 percent in just one year

Two pharmaceutical giants pushed up the price of a popular generic asthma drug more than 1,000 percent between December 2012 and December 2013

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New ads needle Big Pharma over sky-rocketing prices

Taking a page out of the pharmaceutical industry’s playbook, the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing launched television and digital ads focusing on sky-rocketing prescription drug prices.

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Hospitals’ “list prices” drawing greater scrutiny

Here’s a word most health care consumers probably have never heard but should care about: “chargemasters.” That’s what health care industry insiders call hospitals’ list prices.

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A new low for health care consumers: ‘GoFund’ my prescriptions

Facing rising prices and few good options, Americans are turning to crowdfunding to pay for prescription drugs, according to a report by Business Insider.

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Beware of bogus cancer treatments FDA warns

Sometimes we have to be reminded that a product claim that sounds too good to be true, usually is exactly that, even cures to “miracle” cancer treatments.

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High hospital “list prices” matter even if patients don’t pay the full bill

Chances are good the hospital bill you received contains “discounts” negotiated either by your health insurance carrier or by you.

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Pharmaceutical industry ally says hospitals, not Pharma, to blame for rising health care costs

Pharmaceutical companies are receiving intense scrutiny and criticism for raising prescription drug prices. But some, including friends of Big Pharma, say Americans should blame hospitals for high health care costs.

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Misdiagnosis is more common than you think

A new study found more than 20 percent of patients who asked for a second opinion, received a misdiagnosis by their primary care provider.

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Reporting of prescription drug side effects is on the rise

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration received more than 1 million reports of drug side effects in 2015, up nearly 500 percent since 2004

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Oregon governor signs bill targeting rising prescription drug prices

Pharmaceutical manufacturers must disclose their reasons for raising the price of a drug by more than 10 percent under transparency legislation – House Bill 4005 — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law. Oregon joins California, New York and a handful of other states in adopting so-called “transparency laws” aimed at combating rising prescription drug…


Washington group finds $282 million in unnecessary hospital costs for just one year

A Washington State nonprofit recently tried to put a price tag on the cost of unnecessary care – those screenings you might not need every year, or the unnecessary lab work or other tests. The Washington Health Alliance examined a year’s worth of insurance claims for 1.3 million people, looking for one of 47 tests…


Life-saving rabies treatment can cost as much as $10,000 plus hospital fees

As if having a bat in your house isn’t bad enough, imagine the fright from a $6,017 emergency room bill for rabies treatment. That was Ally McNamee’s experience, as reported by Vox.  She was shooing the creature from her house and the bat swatted her open mouth with a wing. She went to urgent care…


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Adopting these 5 healthy habits can add years to your life

The advice isn’t new: adopt a healthy lifestyle for a better quality of life. But new research from Harvard shows five key healthy habits can actually help you live more than 10 years longer. Researchers in Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health compared U.S. men and women’s health habits over 30 years. They found…

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Drug makers haul in $12 billion in profit during the first quarter of 2018

Big Pharma continues to make big profits While consumers continue to pay more for their medications, the pharmaceutical industry continues to make big profits. Axios reports that seven of the world’s largest drug makers collectively earned $12.1 billion – that’s with a b – in profit in just the first three months of the year….

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Hospitals must post list prices for services online

New Medicare rule aims to help consumers make smarter care decisions Health care often gets dinged for being less-than transparent about costs. Wouldn’t it be great if you could see a list of services and their prices before you go to the hospital? Medicare thinks so. Medicare has announced a new requirement that hospitals post…

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Big Pharma spent $8 million on lobbying during first quarter of 2018

Drug maker spending on lobbying shows biggest jump Lawmakers have made lowering drug prices a key pledge to consumers. So maybe it’s no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry has increased its spending on lobbying to change hearts and minds in the halls of Congress. Drug makers spent $8 million during the first quarter of 2018,…

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Drug cost rises 100,000 percent

Drug’s high cost drains city coffers and the Illinois mayor plans to sue Rockford, Illinois, mayor Larry Morrissey set out to understand why his city was bleeding money. The answer: one drug’s high cost. The city pays for employee health care. To cover the cost of Acthar, which treats infantile spasms, for just two babies,…

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Hospital can make big money from disease management classes

Consumers, be sure to check the price before you sign up On its face, it makes sense. Invest in a class to help manage a chronic condition like diabetes. But a Georgia man attended two half-day sessions at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, Ga., and was shocked to get a bill for $1,044. Such classes…

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Pharmaceutical companies block access to some brand-name drugs, meaning no lower-cost generic for you

Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to provide samples of their products to generic drug companies can keep those less-expensive versions from being developed, according to the New York Times. The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating what Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, calls drug makers’ “shenanigans,” which “preserve a brand firm’s…

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Drug companies see a big tax windfall, but consumers don’t get relief

An analysis of the top 10 US drug makers shows savings went to stock buybacks rather than reducing the soaring cost of medications Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Nearly 1 in 4 Americans say they have a hard time paying for their prescription medications. And it’s not news to the pharmaceutical industry, either….

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Parents tried to avoid the ER but ended up with a $937 bill to treat baby’s toe

If the pediatrician’s office is closed and urgent care doesn’t have pediatric expertise, the expensive ER is the only option The Sroka family needed help to treat a cut on their 1-year-old daughter’s toe. The pediatrician’s office was closed, and dad’s doctor didn’t have the right expertise for little toes. So, the local emergency room…

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Woman diagnosed with toenail fungus, doesn’t realize $1,494.09 monthly cost for medication until it’s too late

Anne Soloviev has a heightened risk for skin cancer, so she is diligent about seeing her dermatologist twice a year. During her most recent visit in January, a nurse noted some discoloration on the 77-year-old’s toenails. Tests on a few clippings confirmed she had a toenail fungus. Soloviev was given a prescription to be filled…

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California’s drug price transparency law offers first look at what’s driving big increases

Oregon’s governor signed a new law in late March requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose information they’ve long kept secret. They’ll have to reveal research and development costs, profits and marketing expenses whenever they raise the price of a drug more than 10 percent a year. California was the first state in the nation to adopt…

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Which industry exercises the strongest lobbying influence in our nation’s capital? Big Pharma among the top contenders

Americans think pharmaceutical drug-makers hold too much power over their elected leaders in Congress. A recent poll for the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72 percent of U.S. consumers think the drug industry has too much sway in D.C. and in law and policymaking. In contrast, 69 percent felt the powerbrokers on Wall Street enjoyed…

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Why does the U.S. spend more for health care than other wealthy countries? Simple answer: Our prices are higher

American consumers spend almost twice as much for health care as their counterparts in other wealthy countries. Why? A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a simple but hardly surprising answer: The costs of seeing your doctor, undergoing a procedure or taking a pharmaceutical drug are substantially higher in…

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U.S. government and 45 states claim collusion among generic drug-makers. The cost to consumers and taxpayers? Perhaps more than $1 billion

We all assume that generic medications are lower-cost alternatives to brand name medications. But what if they aren’t? Or what if the cost of a generic is artificially high because of collusion? Both are questions that 45 states and the U.S. Department of Justice are asking the court to take on. National Public Radio reports…

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Big Pharma doesn’t just buy doctors’ lunches, industry writes their textbooks

Most consumers have never heard of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a bulky, two-volume textbook that is in its 20th edition. Chances are, however, most of us have been affected by what’s inside. That’s because Harrison’s is a must-read for medical students and young internists. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)…

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Oregon governor signs bill targeting rising prescription drug prices

Pharmaceutical manufacturers must disclose their reasons for raising the price of a drug by more than 10 percent under transparency legislation – House Bill 4005 — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law. Oregon joins California, New York and a handful of other states in adopting so-called “transparency laws” aimed at combating rising prescription drug…

Read Article

Washington group finds $282 million in unnecessary hospital costs for just one year

A Washington State nonprofit recently tried to put a price tag on the cost of unnecessary care – those screenings you might not need every year, or the unnecessary lab work or other tests. The Washington Health Alliance examined a year’s worth of insurance claims for 1.3 million people, looking for one of 47 tests…

Read Article

Life-saving rabies treatment can cost as much as $10,000 plus hospital fees

As if having a bat in your house isn’t bad enough, imagine the fright from a $6,017 emergency room bill for rabies treatment. That was Ally McNamee’s experience, as reported by Vox.  She was shooing the creature from her house and the bat swatted her open mouth with a wing. She went to urgent care…

Read Article

Patients with mounting medical costs turn to crowd-funding

What do you think about this crowd-funding trend? Maybe you’ve seen the plea: A friend, neighbor or even a stranger is battling a serious illness and can’t keep up with mounting medical expenses. So they turn to social media for help. Websites like GoFundMe or YouCaring have offered a bridge to relief for urgent health…

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Generic drugs approved in record numbers. Increased competition could drive down costs

Generic medications are often a great way to save money on prescriptions. And in 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved 1,027 generic drugs – a record. Those approvals push the generics to market, which increases competition and can help drive down prices. “Drug access is a matter of public health concern,” FDA Commissioner Scott…

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Pharma spends $50 billion tax windfall to lower costs? Not even close.

Pharmaceutical industry will dedicate windfall to boosting stock prices Turns out, they’re helping themselves. Nine drug companies are spending their $50 billion windfall to boost stock prices through share buyback programs, according to Axios. So rather than invest in helping employees or patients or even research, that money is boosting hedge funds and top executives….

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Oregonians! Your Voice is needed now to rein in rising prescription drug prices

The Oregon Legislature is considering House Bill 4005, which would require pharmaceutical companies to justify to the state why they need to raise the price of a prescription medication more than 10 percent a year. As expected, Big Pharma’s lobbyists are fighting hard to keep the bill from making it into law. But Oregonians are…

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People are talking: Pharmaceutical companies want you to think they’re holding the line on prices, but consumers aren’t buying it

It’s become a tradition. Many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies celebrate the new year by raising prices on existing medications. This year, drug makers wanted American consumers to know that they are “holding the line”… which means most price increases were held below 10 percent. But the Voices for Affordable Health community didn’t let…

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Big Pharma launches secretive campaign to kill Oregon drug transparency bill

How far will the pharmaceutical industry go to protect its giant profits? An investigation by the Eugene (Oregon) Register Guard reveals pharmaceutical interests are using a Virginia calling firm and a false narrative in order to kill House Bill 4005, a proposal pending in the Oregon Legislature that would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to report big…

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Oregon coalition pushes for drug price transparency as Legislature convenes

As the skyrocketing prices of medication continues to be an ongoing source of outrage in the U.S. and in Oregon, a coalition of patients, doctors, consumers and others want to hold drug companies accountable by making drug prices more transparent. Oregonians for Affordable Drug Prices Now is backing Oregon House Bill 4005, the Oregon Drug…

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Unused medical supplies tossed in the trash and the cost passed on to you

Picture this: A warehouse the size of a middle school gym, filled to the brim with unopened boxes of surgical sutures, bandages and other medical supplies – all brand new and all thrown away by a local medical facility. Marshall Allen, a reporter for the investigative journalism organization ProPublica, wrote about this Maine warehouse and…

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Maryland fights Rx price gouging (again). Proposed new law tackles high costs of brand name, specialty medications

Thousands of Americans take specialty medications for conditions from multiple sclerosis to HIV/AIDS to hepatitis C and more. But the annual cost of treatment with just one of those drugs can top $50,000 a year, according to a 2017 study by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Maryland is fighting back. Fresh off its first-in-the-nation law…

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Tips for reducing your out-of-pocket health care costs

We all know that health care costs continue to rise dramatically. But this should never deter you from getting the treatment you need. Consumer Reports outlined nine ways you can take control of your health care spending and reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Here are a few to consider: Tip 1: Comparison shop for your care…

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$38,000 drug Humira continues to get more expensive for patients, lines the pockets of pharma

Remember the story of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that spiked the price of the drug Daraprim overnight from $13.50 to $750? The same thing is happening for popular anti-inflammatory drug Humira, as reported by the New York Times. Humira is an injectable biologic drug, which means it was developed from living cells. It treats conditions…

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No surprise: Drug makers still making plenty of money

Big Pharma wants you to think they’re making a sacrifice by keeping price increases under 10 percent. Drug makers celebrated the New Year by raising U.S. prices on dozens of medications. Predictable? Yes. But Big Pharma also was very careful to hold price increases to just below 10 percent, low enough, they hope, to keep…

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