The 1200% Increase in my Prescription Drug Costs

By Paul Henry / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Good morning, John. I’m a little bit pissed
off right now. Ok, I’m very pissed off and one of the only things that makes me feel
better when I’m very pissed off is to reorganize my bookshelf, so I’m gonna do that right now
while I hopefully as calmly as possible explain to you why I’m so pissed off. Ok, so for those of you who don’t know, I
have a disease. It’s a chronic illness, no known cure for it, it’s called ulcerative
colitis and it has a whole bunch of horrible symptoms that you do not want me to explain
to you. If you really want to know you can google it, but you probably just take my word
for it. There’s a medicine for ulcerative colitis, it’s called Asacol. I’ve been taking
it for like five years. So the price of Asacol kept going up and up and up and then a new
drug came on the market called Apriso and Apriso was basically the same drug for significantly
cheaper. So I switched from Asacol to Apriso. And then, very soon after I switched, the
company that made Asacol created a new drug called Asacol HD.
(By the way, beautiful bookshelf all done.) And they said to everybody, “Hey! Asacol HD
is back, it’s out, it’s just in time for Asacol to go generic and it’s even better than Asacol.
It’s basically the exact same thing but we can call it something different enough that
we can extend our patent. And the kicker is Asacol used to be three hundred dollars a
month – this is only gonna be fifty dollars a month!” And I was, of course, ecstatic. And so for the last three months I’ve been
on the same medication. It’s been great, I love it, I got my auto refill all worked out
at the pharmacy so I walk in the pharmacy, I don’t even have to call beforehand, and
they get it ready for me and she’s like “I got some news for you. I’m afraid that the
price of this drug has gone up.” And I’m like, “That’s not a big deal, it used to be three
hundred dollars and now it’s only fifty. How much could it have gone up?” These numbers
right here? That’s how much it’s gone up. Only six hundred and twenty for me. Twelve
hundred percent increase in one month! So this is the patient savings card that lets
me get Asacol for fifty dollars a month. So I’m thinking maybe there’s something I missed
on the card, and there is. There’s an expiration date – April 1st, 2011. Which is funny, for
a couple of reasons. One, because obviously, ah, this card expired before April 1st, 2011.
Second, April 1st, 2011 is April Fools Day. So they’re just playing a little joke on us!
Playing a little joke on all the people who rely on their medication to not have horrible,
painful lives. So this thing that the pharmacist gave me
has a 1-800 number I can call. I call the 1-800 number and it says, “I’m sorry. Due
to larger than usual call volume, you may have an extremely long wait. Would you like
to leave a message and one of our representatives will get back to you ASAP?” And so I was like,
“Fine, I’ll leave a message.” The answering machine thing said “We’re sorry, the mailbox
you have called is currently full.” You know what the number should do? You should call
and it’ll be an automated message saying, “Hello! Thank you for calling. We don’t care.” So yeah, I’m pissed off and I can afford it.
And I have extra medication left over. Think of all the people who can’t afford it and
don’t have extra medication left over. What are those people going to do? Why is this
ok? There’s no reason the price of medication should go up. It’s the same medication that
they’ve been making for twenty years. They didn’t try to contact my doctor so that we
could work something out before the colossal twelve hundred percent increase in the cost
of the medication. And the listed expiration date on the patient savings card, April Fools
Day, was obviously just made up for fun. I’m pissed off enough that I spent a good
part of this weekend searching for ways to contact Warner Chilcott. Warner Chilcott being
the company that makes this medication. And I managed, through the magic of the internet
and some investigative techniques to find the phone number of the CEO of Warner Chilcott,
and I’m gonna call him right now. So I don’t expect Roger Boissonneault to call me back.
I did however find his email address and emailed him. I’m gonna put the email address in the
description below and I encourage people to, ah, think about this situation complexly,
um, be civil, and ah, let him know how you feel, ah, about what his company’s done. Hopefully
they’ll change the policy. And if they don’t, John, Nerdfighteria, I think we should work
together to make Warner Chilcott a, ah, a new curse word. The only reason companies will stop doing
BS like this is if people stand up to it and say, “That is not ok.” John, thank you very much. I would appreciate
it if you in your next episode help me understand this situation complexly and stop being so
pissed off about it cause it’s hard when you’re on the inside of something like this. And
obviously there are much greater injustices in the world, and at this point I feel like
I should emphasize that this is not a me issue. We can fix me. But that’s not what we need
to do. We need to fix this for everyone. We need to say to these companies that it’s not
ok for them to Warner Chilcott us like that. Hehehe, aha, I like the sound of that. Thanks
everyone for your well wishes, John I look forward to your video on Wednesday.

100 thoughts on “The 1200% Increase in my Prescription Drug Costs

  1. indian  and Chinese companies copy the patents of western drug companies and make the drugs available to the end user for in most cases less than 2% of the cost in the west, now some smart arse will justify the cost in the west by saying the western drug companies invest billions in research falling to point out that most of them are registered offshore and don't pay ant tax, but hey capitalism rocks huh.

  2. Hi Hank,
    I hope you are well. This recent article in the New York Times titled "Drug goes from $13.50 a Tablet to $750, overnight" (20 September 2015) reminded me of your video. Can nerdfighteria help?

  3. I've been extremely sick for almost 2 years with an undiagnosed digestive disorder that has made my life a living nightmare. Every test is negative and every treatment a failure, all the while I can't eat without pain, my diet is extraordinarily restricted and I spend more time with doctors than my own parents and whenever I want to try a new food, I have to have my fiance drive my out to the hospital just in case it goes wrong. Having digestive disorders is a terrible curse really, I'm sorry you have to live with it.

  4. This is absolute garbage. Some people NEED medication to live, or they will be in terrible pain all the time, or even die. This is totally unacceptable and I completely agree with Hank

  5. Ugh I can relate so much. The medication I've been taking for a decade has also increased in price since there's been a shortage. My mail-in order pharmacy recently told me that they could not refill my medication for a month. That isn't an option for me. My medication prevents things like excruciating pain, debilitating fatigue, and organ failure. I had my doctor send the prescription to a local pharmacy, went to pick it up, and was told that it would be ~$400 for only 30 pills. My insurance was refusing to cover it if I didn't get it through the mail-in order pharmacy. So I called my insurance company and told them "You have a choice. You can cover 30 pills, or you can cover a hospital visit and 30 pills." Although it took all day, I was able to purchase my medication that night for $15.

  6. who looking at the old videos is pretty interesting, how did this story develop over 4 years? any improvements/alternatives? I have MS and am on a new medication for it and hate that this kind of situation can exist

  7. wow. i fell so sorry for you. cant you go to the genic version. the "new" medicene is trick. all medicenes have dead elementals. this lets the company release a "new medicene. usealy any extra benafites are purely placebo based. sorry for the bad spelling/grammar im using a tablet

  8. I don't know what I would do if the price of my meds increased like this, I heard you can get money for stuff like that if you can't afford it and you're poor. I'm not sure what constituites poor for them but I assume everyone living below the poverty line would count.

  9. Yes! Go Hank! I take Vyvanse for ADHD. If I don't have good enough insurance, that shit costs me $200 + a month. I know it's not as expensive as hour medication, but yeah. It's a pain in my ass. Seriously, fuck you drug companies and insurance companies .

  10. Sweden has not only subsidized health care, we also have protection for the high costs of medical care, medicines and medical transports. I do not need to pay more than 130$ per year for health care, a maximum of 260$ for medicines and 190$ for medical transports. Yes, we have ridiculously high taxes (almost 60%), but the benefits are so many that I gladly pay my share.

  11. Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:

    Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
    Abdominal pain and cramping
    Rectal pain
    Rectal bleeding — passing small amount of blood with stool
    Urgency to defecate
    Inability to defecate despite urgency
    Weight loss
    In children, failure to grow


  12. Okay, this is super late, but this is still something that makes me angry. Last year I had three trips to the ER in the span of a month, and a six day hospital stay. I was released from the hospital, told that I needed to take a special kind of antibiotic, and follow up with a specialist. Couldn't afford the antibiotics and the state of my insurance is a mess (I'm apparently insured but I've not received my benefit card. Ugh.) and so I followed up with my specialist, and she told me I needed surgery. I can't have surgery because of insurance things. So it's now basically a waiting game to see when I'll be in pain again and have to go back to the emergency room. Fuck health care in this country.

  13. Hank, firstly thank you for all your videos. I greatly enjoy and appreciate them. I also have U.C and I am in Michigan where medical Marijuana is legal. I juice the leaves and drink 1 oz of the juice daily. no high, just medicine. my symptoms are not completely gone but the pain stops and inflammation is kept under raps for the most part. bleeding is once every other week when I juice. If I don't juice I get flair ups daily. If you would like more information feel free to ask. again thank you for your videos I really enjoy them.

  14. I've got a solution for you Hank. Move to the UK and get your medication via the NHS problem solved. Or you could just shoot all the Republicans in the US so that your country can have a sane healthcare system. Either one

  15. This makes me even more happy that I live in Sweden, I have a chronic disease but in my country I never have to pay more than 129,67 dollars for doctors appointments and 259,33 dollars for medication A YEAR! And before you reach the limit in medication costs you get a 25%, 50% and 75% discount the closer you get to the limit.

  16. No wonder the US ranks abnormally low on the heath care rankings compared to the infrastructure the US has at it's disposal. Way lower than both Greece and Iceland. Not that they have terrible health care systems, as they have some of the best in the world, but economy wise they are way worse off. The US ranks the lowest on the list of health care systems in what we consider the developed world, and according to Bloomberg in 2014 it ranked only two places above Iran in terms of efficiency (44 and 46 respectively). Why is that? Why is it that a doctor should be payed according to how many patient he or she treats? Wouldn't a fixed salary based on how many patients you have under your care be better both for you and the patients? This way a doctor gets paid even if there are no patients to treat, which in my eyes would be the pinnacle of health care. This way you want your patients to stay healthy, as it would be a sign that you're actually doing the job you were educated to do, no?

  17. Isn't the patents for medications supposed to have it's exclusivity expire after like 5 years? after this time other pharmaceutical companies are free to make active ingredients themselves paying the standard royalty fee and sell it for competitive prices. How is it possible for the patent holding company to simply change the name of the drug and have that exclusivity renewed?

  18. Thats just pure evil. mesalazine which is the acive ingredient in his medication can be very easily synthesized from salicylic acid by nitration using nitric acid followed by reduction using either sodium dithionite or iron chloride or tin and HCL. and considering salicylic acid is like $20 a pound on ebay this stuff would be hella cheap to produce, so hella easy that you could litterally do it at home with a 2 neck RB flask a condenser an addition funnel some filtering equipment (filter paper and buchner funnel or siltered filter funnel) and an Erlenmeyer flask and some beakers and a measuring cylinder and a magnetic stirrer.

    C7H6O3 + H2SO4, HNO3 > C7H5NO5 + Na2S2O4 —-> C7H7NO3/ Mesalazine

    there are literally no complications with this because of where the hydroxy and carboxylic acid groups are located so it can only nitrate at the meta position for the carboxylic acid or the para position for the hydroxy, the yeilds for each of these reactions would be very close to 100%. This is almost as bad as the shit that went down not too long ago with the HIV medication spike which the active compound was pyramethamine which is again reasonably easy to synthesize. Although this happened before the HIV meds thing but still.

  19. I've never heard of Asacol or Apriso.

    I was diagnosed with UC in 2013. I've been on Pentasa and Azathioprine ever since. I take Pentasa 2 tablets 4 times a day and Azathioprine 3 tablets in the morning. I don't like the Azathioprine because one of the side effects is loss of hair :/ But have you or have you ever heard of these drugs Hank?

  20. i can empathize slightly, my dog is a very anxious dog, in order to get her outside to pee without the world seeming too scary, she gets medications. with out warning (and i work at the vet hospital who dispenses the medication) my dog's prescription went from $50 to $100. the reasoning, the price went up and the hospital realized it was undercharging. the doctors were not made aware.

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  22. Here's an easy-ass solution: Move to Australia. Pretty sure you can get medicare and better health insurance stuff.

  23. The problem is with government regulation. Without FDA approval drug production would be faster and cheaper. Without patents competition would lower the cost.

  24. I've been prescribed this medication yesterday, remembered this video and now I'm thanking whatever deity is up there that I live in the UK and my prescription will be like £8.

  25. This was me a few months ago, my Doctor recomended Asacol HD…. suffice it to say I couldn't afford it, and so we had to try something else…. I don't have the same thing as Hank but it's similar…….

  26. I would love to see an update on this, as the mother of a school-aged peanut-allergic child dependent on Epi-Pens who has to buy them for home as well as school. (Incidentally, we buy a lot of our drugs from Canadian pharmacies for this very reason.)

  27. Hey yeah I know the feeling, I have to take humera twice a month which costs $3000 a month and it was a pain when the prices increased sadly I'm forced to take it twice a month until I die or go broke, and the company that makes humera has a monopoly on the drug so I'm screwed for life, and I don't want to sound petty or over reaching but can it please be possible for you Hank or John to talk about crohns or even IBS, I feel that no one gives a shit about my illness and it's poorly funded, but what do I get to complain my illness isn't much to some other illnesses, also I just want to say that the discovery of the 7 new planets around the red dwarf would most likely be tidally locked and since red dwarfs and known to spew lots of charged particles ( I can't remember what the name of that is called) the planets are most likely very mercury like on one side and fully frozen on the other

  28. Have you checked out Lialda? It helped me out more so than Asacol. It is more on the side of extended release tabs, sometimes they don't digest all the way if you're feeling bad that day. I also tried Remicade but those are infusions. It's so tiring having to pay that much for basically the rest of your life. I know that feel.

  29. thats so fu**ed up. My mother is sick and I hate it, that something you need to have a life which is worth living, has to been paied by yourself when you invest in a health care every month. it`s just bs, that some medications get paied by your health care (at least in germany) and others not although they are so important for the people. My mother pays 1000 euro for her medicine. after two or three times she set them up because it was to expencive for us and she couldn`t affort it.

  30. I wish you had done this John Oliver-style and had your viewers mail human waste to the CEO and other executives of the company or something.

  31. you was pissed off because you choose to be pissed off
    don't give the external world the remote control to your emotional state every starts everything begins with you and ends with you no outside resources is required

  32. Oh my gosh. You have UC? No one else I know does. It is good to know that one of my role models goes through the same struggles I do. (Though I am on a different drug to try not to die.) My meds also have gone up in price (actually because of recent regulations under the trump administration. )

  33. Watching many of mental health clients not able to get counseling because their deductibles, are so high, which means they can't pay their co-pays. They choose to spend what money they do have to pay for their kid's health and the very bare necessities of health care. I pray things will change!

  34. Thank you for making this video! It makes me feel less alone. The cost of prescription drugs in this country is ridiculous. I used to take Asacol for my Crohn's disease; now I take one of the other "big name" drugs. I am the healthiest I've been in years, but the cost has gone up to over $5,200 a month. If I didn't have Medicaid, I'm not sure what I would do.

  35. One of the amazing things of living in Sweden is that you pay for your medications, but the government (or tax payers) pay for some of it too, so it's not overly expensive… And then, once you've bought medications for US $277… the rest is free. for a year from the first purchase of that period. Since I also have Ulcerative Colitis, I also have some expensive meds. But it's only ever 277 bucks for a whole year of medications… and if you are smart, you buy more as soon as you're allowed, to be able to maybe get a month or so extra worth of pills… making it basically 13 or 14 months of medications for only $277.
    Yes, I know, it's not free, it's tax funded… but there are so many tax funded things I get to benefit from: school, school lunches, higher education, clean tap water, cheap health care (37 bucks to see a doctor, including whatever treatment you might need. maybe 10 bucks more if you need an x-ray)… and a lot of other stuff I can't think of right now.

    Anyway, as a fellow chronic sufferer, I suffer for your pain and your shitty medication deals (pun quite intended).

  36. It's 2017 and Asacol costs between 47 and 157 dollars where I live. And when you've paid 276 dollar in medical expenses from the new year, the rest of your expenses that same year is free. That includes doctors visits and out patient procedures. Universal healthcare ftw!

  37. Yo getting more and more glad that I don't live in the bizarre country that is the USA. Things like this, even six years ago.

  38. So very true and well-presented. I feel powerless most of the time with things that are ridiculously unjust and powered by money-grubbing lobbyists.

  39. Bernie Sanders TRIED to get a bill together so that medications can be imported from Canada (same exact medications) so that people can actually afford their medicine. Here’s the kicker: most democrats wouldn’t even help.

    The party that claims to be for the poor and middle class didn’t care to help get this bill off the ground and passed. Why? Because most democrats are beholden to their donors and they all take money from the pharmaceutical industry.

    Please do your homework before you vote, but please vote. It’s extremely important.

  40. Damn… you pay more for that, than i do for… i mean… everything… Housing, bills… Not food. My gas bill went up a lot… but not 1200%.

  41. So Martin Shkreli was basically Chilcott (is that how you spell it) 2.0? What is going on in the US and why are there no safeguards in place for unethical medicinal and pharmaceutical practices? How are things like this not illegal?

  42. We have Medicare and (I think) Medicaid. That means we pay about fifty dollars for moms meds. If we didn't have those, we would pay over a grand, possibly over two grand, for her meds

  43. *Sobs in 2018 American Healthcare costs*

    Hey 2018 American Nerdfighters: Be a voter this year!

    PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE AND TURN UP FOR THE 2018 MIDTERMS IN NOVEMBER. Your vote matters, ESPECIALLY at the local and state level. Vote for the changes locally that you wish to see at the federal level. Here's how to get started:


    Be a voter this year!

  44. Hello Hank,
    I understand that I am seven years late to this video but I am binge watching vlogbrothers and YouTube is taking me down a rabbit hole of old videos. I struggled with my UC for over ten years in incredible pain and often unable to keep a job because of it. In the last two years I have felt much better and feel comparable to a "normal person" now. I attribute it to eat plant based foods which tend to be more antiinflammatory and trying to find stress relieving activities like making art, meditating, and journaling. Not sure if any of this is helpful to you or anyone else going through it but I wanted to share just in case.

  45. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitus a year ago. I was reacently put on Humira, which the cost BEFORE insurance was almost $15000 A MONTH. Luckily I have really good insurance that brought the price down to $500 a month. Im all for the guy who created the medicine to get paid well for putting in the time, money, and education into producing the medicine. But $15000??? And before you ask that is not a typo. If I didn't have insurance I would have had to sell my car just to get one months worth of my medication.

  46. oh man past hank it doesnt get any better epipen went up something crazy like 3000%….EPIPEN!!!!!

  47. this is one of many, many reasons, why capitalism is bad and must be dismantled. i hope you will be okay, comrade.

  48. Wait, so if he paid $20 a day for his pills which equals $600 a month… A 1200% increase would be $7200 a month?? That's crazy

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