Recently, Pradaxa manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim made a decision to lower its price it charges to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) by 13%. According to the company, the decision was to make Pradaxa cost “as affordable as possible in this tough financial climate,” enabling physicians to write prescriptions “based on clinical need, not cost.”
All out of the goodness of their corporate hearts, right?
It appears that the move on the part of the German-based pharmaceutical manufacturer was hardly altruistic. Aside from the growing body of evidence that use of Pradaxa can lead to uncontrolled and potentially fatal bleeding, it turns out that Boehringer Ingelheim is getting some competition – from another, far-better known German pharmaceutical firm, Bayer (yes, the same one that makes the aspirin). In a marketing coup, Bayer has sold the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (a board that sets guidelines for the British NHS) on their new product, Xarelto.
The daily cost to the NHS for this medication is £2.10 per day (approximately $1.34 USD). In response, Boehringer Ingelheim lowered Pradaxa cost from £2.52 to £2.20 ($1.60 to $1.40).
Will this affect Pradaxa cost in the U.S.? Hardly. Currently, the daily cost for a U.S. patient on this medication is over nine dollars. Of course, this drug is primarily prescribed to patients on Medicare – and assuming the self-styled kings on the Supreme Court don't strike it down in June, others who get insurance through the Affordable Care Act will get government subsidies – your tax dollars going to make certain the predatory, profit-driven health care “system” in the U.S. continues to make billions in corporate welfare.
And this for a drug where safety is a serious consideration.
As for Xarelto, the drug has been approved for sale in the U.S. since November of 2011. Known by its chemical name rivaroxaban, it works by inhibiting the action of an enzyme known as Factor Xa, which plays a part in the coagulation of blood. It is comparable to warfarin, but reportedly has fewer interactions. As for the cost, Xarelto is not much better for U.S. patients than Pradaxa; it still runs between $6.00 and $9.00 a day. Furthermore, there is still the same danger of hemorrhaging, according to the company's own literature.
But at least Bayer was forthcoming about that.
N/A. “Bayer's Xarelto Set For Battle With Pradaxa After NICE Recommendation.” PMLive (http://www.pmlive.com/pharma_news/bayer_xarelto_rivaroxaban_nice_af_boehringer_pradaxa_396390). Published 30 March 2012; retrieved 05 April 2012.
N/A. “Dabigatran Cost Reduced by 13% After Fears of CCG Clampdown.” Pulse, 05 April 2012.
N/A. “Medication Guide [for Xarelto].” PDF available at http://www.xarelto-us.com/.
Taylor, Lynne. “B-I Cuts Pradaxa's Price by 13%.” PharmaTimes, 29 March 2012.
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