Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cancer Drugs War...for MONEY $$$$$..BEWARE

Posted by Cori O'Donnell - Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The face of drug dealers are changing, crack dealers lurking behind corners are not the only players on the market, business men and women sitting behind desks have joined the game. And the drug of choice is…cancer pharmaceuticals.
The U.S. has a shortage of cancer drugs and companies are buying up all the drugs they can get their hands on and in turn reselling them with a large markup.
This cancer drug-dealing business is referred to as the “gray market,” and according to experts in the pharmaceutical industry, this practice is not illegal.
We may see an increase in these practices. According to Raw Story, President Barack Obama may have just opened a larger loophole when he issued an executive order to fix the problem.
“These are a number of very small firms that have popped up out of nowhere. Most of them are relatively new,” Thomas Smith, director of palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, told Raw Story. “It happens in every other market, we just don’t expect it to happen in pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment."
According to Modern Medicine most of the drugs being sold on the gray market are generic brand drugs such as: “vincristine, methotrexate, leucovorin, cytarabine, doxorubicin, bleomycin, and paclitaxel—that physicians have prescribed for years in childhood leukemia and curable cancers.”
The non-profit Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) reports that gray market prices can be up to ten times higher than usual costs.
In a survey conducted by ISMP, 56 percent of 549 hospitals surveyed said they receive offers on a daily basis from people in the gray market.
ISMP also reported that 52 percent of survey respondents reported purchasing pharmaceuticals from the gray market within the last two years. And about 80 percent of those who do business on the gray market said their purchases have increased over the last two years as drug shortages rapidly increase.
It is unknown as to how many gray market dealers exist, but at least five are being investigated by Congressman Elijah Cummings for charging inflated prices for the drugs.
The short supply of cancer drugs can be contributed to the economic problems in the United States. From Modern Medicine:
“If manufacturers don’t make enough profit, they won’t make generic drugs. If a brand-name drug with a higher profit margin is available, a manufacturer may stop producing its generic equivalent. Contamination and shortages of raw materials likely account for less than 10% of the shortages.”
It may appear hospitals and other medical institutions are resorting to the gray market for self-benefit, but that’s not the case.
The Associated Press conducted an investigation and found that within the last 15 months there have been at least 15 deaths because of prescription drug shortages. Patients either died because the drugs they needed were unobtainable, or because of an inadequate dosage amount.
In addition to posing as a threat to peoples’ lives, the drug shortage has delayed surgeries and cancer treatments.
The gray market is not the only cause of drug shortages, there has been an increase of theft of prescription drugs from both warehouses and during the shipment process. These thieves resell the drugs at higher costs, but are also drastically effecting the cancer drug market, and not in a good way.
The FDA, along with medical and consumer groups, is working to improve the drug shortage problem and to put these gray market drug dealers out of business.

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