Two Chippewa Valley medical services providers told the Chippewa Valley Post that this area hasn’t escaped the state and national drug price increase trends reported recently by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. (The WCIJ article summing up its investigation is available by clicking here.)
Maribeth Woodford, executive director of the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic, said her dispensary manager reported that EpiPens (pictured on the home page) have gone from $336.62 in July, 2015 to $790.39 today, an increase of 134% in 16 months. Lantus Solostar pens, which provide a long-acting form of insulin, have increased from $47.66 for one pen in June, 2014, to a current cost of $82.41, Woodford said, a 72% increase.
Jason Berg, senior finance analyst here for Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS), said that through October of this year, drug expenses for MCHS in northwest Wisconsin were about 7% higher than the comparable period in 2015. Compared to 2014, Mayo’s drug costs in the region have increased almost 28%, he said.
One factor in the increase is a lack of competition for certain generic drugs, Berg said.
Woodford said that the Free Clinic’s cost for levothyroxine, the generic version of the most frequently prescribed medication in the United States, has bucked the national trend and has dropped about 20% compared to June, 2014. The drug is used to treat hypothyroidism.
However, the clinic’s cost for Synthroid, the brand name version of the drug, has increased 52% over that same time frame, she said. Nationally, according to the WCIJ study, Synthroid’s price has nearly doubled in the past six years while the cost of levothyroxine increased some 231% between 2011 and 2016.
Woodford said that the clinic’s cost for doxycycline – a drug used to treat infections – has tripled from its June, 2014 level. That’s still better than the national picture, according to the WCIJ investigation which found that the drug now costs more than 50 times what it did in 2011.
The clinic has also seen a major increase in the cost of Advair Diskus, which it uses often to treat asthma and various other pulmonary diseases. Woodford said the drug’s cost has risen some 46% since June, 2014.