Anti-hookworm pill gets 10,000% markup in US

Drugs to treat "neglected tropical diseases," like many intestinal parasites, are extraordinarily expensive in the U.S. compared to other places in the world, according to a report from NPR.

For example, two albendazole pills to cure the intestinal parasite hookworm cost 4 cents in Tanzania, $2 in the U.K. and up to $400 in the U.S. The same holds true for other drugs, such as Daraprim, which treats toxoplasmosis and costs upward of $3,000 for four pills, according to the report. 

Why are these drugs so much more expensive in the U.S.?

Largely because the diseases are less common, so fewer pharmaceutical companies see producing drugs to cure them as profitable; therefore they do not produce the drug, according to the report. This creates a monopoly problem, as is the case with albendazole. Just one company, Impax Laboratories, produces the drug in the U.S. In an email to NPR, the company said, "Given the very different regulatory regimes in the U.S. versus outside the U.S., pricing is a very awkward comparison." 

Despite cases of hookworm not being extremely common in the U.S., the price increase of albendazole has significantly increased spending, and the high cost is prohibitive to many who do have hookworm. According to NPR, Medicare spending on albendazole jumped from less than $100,000 to more than $7.5 million from 2008 to 2013.  

Read the full story here.  


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