Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Cost of Drugs

A 2007 article in Medical Economics estimated there to be 90,000 to 100,000 drug reps nationwide; each is supposed to call on eight to 10 physician offices a day.

Some practices may get only two to four visits a week, but primary care physicians deemed as "heavy prescribers" were called on by an average of 29 reps a week, according to 2005-2006 data gathered by Health Strategies Group, a research firm that tracks the pharmaceutical industry.

The cost of the drug samples being handed out daily, by almost 100,000 drug reps, is passed right on to the consumer in the price of drugs.

Once again we learn: there is no free lunch.


Nancy Nurse said...

These numbers are disturbing on many levels:

Think of all the savings that could be passed on to the consumer if drug companies use FedEx as their reps.

The delivery cost of a few, "signature required - detail sheet included" samples would be less than five dollars.

The average salary, plus benefits, of experienced drug reps must be around $100,000 or more, so the FedEx program would be an immediate health care cost savings of almost one billion dollars.

And the docs would be better informed because they would need to actually read the detail sheets before prescribing - which would probably dramatically cut drug costs, as well.

Let's hope the dems pick up on this idea in their health plans.

Anonymous said...

Just checked FedEx stock - it opened at $84.17 this morning. If you idea catches on this could be an investment opportunity.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

Hi Nancy,

The FedEx charge for a three day "signature required" delivery is a bit more than $10.00.

But, that is still far less that one quarter the cost of having drug reps deliver the samples.

I suspect the savings to the consumer and the government would still be way over one billion a year when all the expenses are factored in.

James Waugh, MD said...

A billion savings here, a billion savings there - suddenly you are talking real money.

But, how many folks think BigPharma would actually pass the savings on to the end user?

Nick said...

That is a lot of money we could be saving. That's why I would rather take vitamins everyday so I don't need to go to the doctor and get prescriptions.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

Hi Nick,

Remember there is no magic bullet, so vitamins alone won't do it.

Good health requires that you eat clean (almost no junk food).

Exercise daily.

Surround yourself with friends.

Keep yourself as stress free as possible.

And, of course, take daily full-spectrum vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.