RX Prescriptions: Some background

in #rx2 years ago


Why RX?

Did you know that RX was shorthand for the Latin Recipere meaning “To take ”? Doctors wrote this in medieval times in shorthand form ℞ (or RX).

FYI. Frequently used abbreviations by medical professionals including an “x” were “hx” for history and “dx” for diagnosis.

In the UK they just use the word “prescription,” apart from to some medical professionals “Rx” means nothing to most people over there.

But in the US, RX has a huge amount of meaning, and a multi-billion industry is quite aware of its importance.

Let’s take a look at some background to one of the biggest industries the US economic system (and legislation) has created.

The Greedy

The US spends on RX prescription drugs over the last year was estimated at over $400 billion dollars. Forecasts for 2021 are as high as $600 billion according to https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/04/us-prescription-drug-spending-as-high-as-610-billion-by-2021-report.html

The government (one that has a vested interest to keep the prices high as many in power own the companies themselves) has made some statements (as is the norm) but with little actual change and so the pharmaceutical companies are still charging prices that can only be solved with extortionate insurance or with handouts.

And the needy

This hugely profitable industry has spawned a myriad network of solutions, Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), coupons, specialty RX insurance, and generic (often imported) drugs and a big problem of affordability for millions of Americans.

This has changed very little throughout this new administration (though it is only half over, so … maybe?). Don’t hold your breath.

Which drugs are the most prescribed?

THE most prescribed drug is a statin, called Lipitor. Why? Well, it is a useful and effective drug, but the fact is most Americans would rather keep on eating whatever they want regardless of the ill effect it has on their bodies. “Hey, we’re insured,” “nobody tells ME what I can or cannot eat.”

Statins allow you to eat what would generally block your arteries and kill you with a heart attack.

The top 4 out of 5 drugs prescribed are to counter the ill effects of either diet or bad diet through choice. Might it not be easier to just say no to that packaged food? It appears not.

Generic drugs: The answer?

According to https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/recent-forecasted-trends-prescription-drug-spending/#item-generic-drug-prices-declined-branded-drug-prices-nearly-doubled-price_2017 the generic drug energy is petering out.

Fewer companies are starting to produce generic drugs (in the US at least). This has means stagnation in prices.

With the current protectionism of US goods by the current administration, it is getting harder to get your hands on Indian (very good) and Chinese (less so) generic medication. Patents on the actual source drug play a huge part, and so it looks like we will be stuck with the current situation for some time to come.

Drug prices in the US

Humira, a drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis is 96% more expensive in the US than in the UK (itself hardly a third world economy). It is 225% more expensive than in Switzerland (which is hardly a Socialist Republic).

No matter that the current US administration wants to help opposition parties (or pressure groups – which are the same thing these days) to help to break the NHS in the UK. What reason do they give?, to allow better competition … which will lower costs. So in their minds (pressure groups often backed by Big Pharma), the UK will become more like the US.

What can possibly go wrong?

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