Rising cost some of generic drugs set to shock consumers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  You may not be seeing the sticker shock at your local drug store yet, but your pharmacist is, and it's only a matter of time before consumers feel it. When Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited Spalitto's Pharmacy on Tuesday morning, the cost of generic drugs was the first thing drugstore owner Pete Spalitto wanted to discuss.

"He asked me if I had any concerns and I shared with him, yes," the third-generation pharmacy owner said. "We've been doing this for 30 years. We've never seen anything like this."

Spalitto said a hundred pills of Albuterol used to cost $18.99. Then in March it jumped to $579.55. Think that's bad? Consider the anti-seizure medication Divalproex. In May, 500 pills went for $122.99. This month the cost for Spalitto is $1,629.95.

"That would be like going to the gas pump at four dollars a gallon one day and the next day it's $1,100 a gallon," Spalitto complained.

Splallito said most insurance companies will only reimburse him based on the old cost so right now he can't even dispense certain generics to his customers.

"I can't afford to sell it to them right now," said Spalitto.

He added that 90 percent of his customers have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid and don't pay the real costs. Spalitto said they have no idea of the sticker shock that's coming when their insurance plans change next year and their co-pays likely skyrocket.

"Tried to get an explanation from our wholesaler, they claim it's a supply and demand issue, the manufacturer is not returning our calls," said an exasperated Spalitto.

Mark Whiting is with the consulting company Mercer, which helps broker insurance plans for large companies. "Widly strange," is how he describes the rising cost of some generic drugs. He can't explain why some generics are going through the stratosphere but he said all drugs are going up and adds the Affordable Care Act is partly to blame.

"Pharmaceutical manufactures are having to kick some money into some funds to help cover the uninsured that aren't in the plans today," said Whiting.

He also suspects some manufactures are trying to maximize profits before all elements of the Affordable Care Act go into effect. FOX 4 tried calling Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Albuterol and Divalproex but did not receive a return phone call.

Governor Nixon's office told FOX 4 they're aware of the concerns pharmacists have and are looking into the price hikes.

email: rob.low@wdaftv4.com
twitter: @fox4roblow

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