Because they aren’t brand-name drugs, generic drugs are supposed to save money while they save lives. But some people claim that generic drug manufacturers aren’t allowing people to save money, which could take lives, not save them.
That’s what Connecticut attorney general William Tong and others say. In May, 2019, Connecticut and over forty states filed a lawsuit against companies who marketed several generic drugs. The lawsuit alleges that the pharmaceutical companies conspired with each other to fix the prices of generic drugs, actions that led to steep price increases on many popular drugs.
How steep were the price increases? Discussing his efforts on the television program 60 Minutes, Attorney General Tong said that doxycycline is “a common antibiotic” used by some people every day. He noted that “between 2013 and 2014, a bottle of doxycycline shot up 8,281 percent from $20 to more than $1,800.” If people have to use significant amounts of doxycycline on a regular basis, the cost of the drug may quickly create a financial burden.
Doxycycline is not the only generic drug involved in these proceedings. The lawsuit claims that drug manufacturers worked together to raise the prices of over 100 drugs. If the allegations are true, they may reveal a pattern of behavior that endangered the lives of many people and maybe even ended the lives of others.
Making the prices of drugs extremely expensive may create agonizing decisions for the people who desperately need them. People may not use the drugs, so their conditions may become worse. Or, they may purchase expensive prescription medicine and have so little money left that they can no longer buy enough food or pay for housing. But inadequate nutrition or shelter may weaken them further, expose them to conditions that make them ill, and make their existing conditions worse.
Did the quest for profit endanger lives? If so, will lawsuits punish those responsible and help create regulations to prevent this from occurring again? To answer such questions, this case and similar efforts are worth watching.