MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Buying generic brand drugs when filling a prescription used to be a no brainer.
However, with a recent spike in prices, some are now struggling to pay for what was once affordable medication. Recent surveys suggest 70-percent of the nation takes at least one prescription medication. Pharmacist Bill Nabors of University Pharmacy in Coral Gables says everyone is feeling the increase.
“Customers who have insurance plans have not been affected too badly because their co-pays have stayed the same, but patients who have to come in and pay cash, that’s a different story,” said Nabors.
Nabors said it has to do with consolidation in the pharmaceutical manufacturing business for generic brand drugs.
“Instead of five or six manufacturers now there may be just two or three and the price point will have increased five times from what it was originally,” he said.
Some of the generics that have shot up in price include Digoxin for certain heart conditions, Levothyroxine for underactive thyroid, certain pain medications and Prednisolone, a steroid used for allergies, arthritis and rashes.
“Suddenly the market has dried up. Certain milligram amounts we ask for we can’t even find,” said Nabors.
Experts CBS4 News spoke with said there are a number of reasons for the prince increases, including drug makers having difficulty getting raw materials, the increased cost of being FDA compliant and other drug producers who are no longer making generics.
“It’s been happening for about the last two years and it’s still increasing,” said University Pharmacy managing partner Gary Bruce Sandler.
He said they try to help customers who come to them with economic hardships.
“We will see how much that drug is really costing us, how much we really need to make to still make a profit and sometimes we will lose a little bit to give that customer what they need,” said Sandler.
Pharmacists said they know of situations in the past where people wouldn’t fill their prescriptions because of the cost, putting their health at great risk.
“What are they going to do? Go without groceries or pay for their heart medication? It’s become quite the quandary, especially on those with fixed incomes,” said Nabors.
If the high cost of generics is too high for you, Nabors said talk to your pharmacist to see what can be done.
“We can try to shave costs here and there as best we can and help you transition into the new cost structure.”