Drug shortage price gouging

Jefferson Dodge and Joel Dyer | Boulder Weekly

The following information was produced from a market analysis conducted by Premier Healthcare Alliance during a two-week period in April and titled Buyer Beware: Drug Shortages and the Gray Market. The full report can be viewed at www.premierinc.com.

According to the analysis, the average markup for drugs in short supply or back-ordered being offered by suppliers on the gray market during the research period was 650 percent. However, the markups were found to be much higher for drugs being offered in certain critical care areas.

The Premier report found that the 10 short-supply medications being offered at the highest markups were as follows:

• Labetalol (cardiology) – 4,533 percent

• Cytarabine (oncology) – 3,980 percent

• Dexamethasone 4mg inj. (oncology and rheumatology) – 3,857 percent

• Leucovorin (oncology) – 3,170 percent

• Propofol (critical care sedation and surgery) – 3,161 percent

• Papavarine (critical care) – 2,979 percent

• Protamine (critical care) – 2,752 percent

• Levophed (critical care) – 2,642 percent

• Sodium Chloride Concentrate (critical care) – 2,350 percent

• Furosemide inj. (critical care) – 1,721 percent

According to Premier, most of the above marketing offers “were often in the form of emails and fliers that contained language such as: ‘We only have 20 of this drug left and quantities are going fast.’ All of the top 10 offers to sell products involved drugs in short supply or those that were completely back-ordered by their manufacturers. All were drugs specifically indicated for critically ill patients.”