Think Competition Isn’t Important?

The recently shuttered Westbury Pharmacy was a compounding pharmacy. These institutions make up drugs per the instructions of a doctor when a special medicine is needed for an unique problem. A member of my family was a patient and the charge was $200 per refill. Now that Westbury is out of business, South River Compounding Pharmacy charges $550 for exactly the same  prescription. Competition is important.

— Les Schreiber

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17 responses to “Think Competition Isn’t Important?

  1. Les – is this something insurance will not cover?

  2. An explanation of why Westbury Pharmacy closed: “Over a year ago it was discovered that a janitor had accessed our prescription department and stolen substantial amounts of pain medication. … We immediately notified the police. That individual was arrested, plead guilty, and is now in jail. In its investigation, the Board has raised many issues about the operations of our prescription department. We take these issues very seriously.”

    Regulatory overkill? Interesting trade-off between protecting the public health and promoting the public convenience.

  3. For some reason neither medicare or our supplement covers this type of medicine.

  4. I remember now.. and I guess I’m thinking about how many pharmacies in Va end up getting squashed by that nasty regulation…

    we have a regulation problem in Va that is messing the calculation between public health and public convenience for a lot of folks?

    or more likely is it one bad actor that will be trumpeted by the anti-reg folks as “proof” of a problem?

    hmmm….. here’s the regulators side:

    https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/About/News/PressReleaseWestbury04172015.pdf

    sounds like the pharmacy had some issues…

    I’d come down on the side of the regulators protecting the public – myself.

  5. Les, there are a number of compounding pharmacies in Fairfax County. You might want to consider doing an Internet search.

  6. could not find a number on pharmacies in Va but about 60,000 nationwide so suspect we’ve got a thousand or more – scattered throughout the state.

    compounding is an interesting thing… have no idea how rules apply but know that manufactured drugs are regulated and from TV we know – those makers are subject to lawsuit if someone things they harmed them. The doctor (I think) is protected as long as he prescribes for the FDA approved uses.. not sure who is the responsible part for compounding.. but suspect the doctor has greater exposure.

    It is an interesting issue – from a regulation perspective. I note that some drugs that FDA won’t approve for general use are now available to people who have no other options but with the proviso that they have far less ability to sue for harm.

    and this:

    ” Death by medicine is a 21st-century epidemic, and America’s “war on drugs” is clearly directed at the wrong enemy!

    Prescription drugs are now killing far more people than illegal drugs, and while most major causes of preventable deaths are declining, those from prescription drug use are increasing, an analysis of recently released data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by the Los Angeles Times revealed.

    The Times analysis of 2009 death statistics, the most recent available, showed:

    For the first time ever in the US, more people were killed by drugs than motor vehicle accidents
    37,485 people died from drugs, a rate fueled by overdoses on prescription pain and anxiety medications, versus 36,284 from traffic accidents

    Drug fatalities more than doubled among teens and young adults between 2000 and 2008, and more than tripled among people aged 50 to 69

    Again, these drug-induced fatalities are not being driven by illegal street drugs; the analysis found that the most commonly abused prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

    http://goo.gl/skVmb

  7. I love Jim Bacon. Here’s a clearcut case of price gouging and market manipulation by private enterprise and Jimbo comes up with “overregulation.” Where are Teddy Rossevelt and Ida Tarbell when we need them?

  8. Right on, Peter! Let’s hope there might be an enterprising reporter at the T-D interested in this. Or Call 12 On Your Side! If, and I hasten to add if, a pharmacy did indeed jack its prices that much just because a competitor disappeared, if your case was not an isolated example, then this is what we used to call A STORY back when I hung around the newsroom eager to find and tell such stories. Sunlight doesn’t just work on government.

  9. And Teddy was A REPUBLICAN!

  10. thought a while after Jim’s comment and I thought I’d toss back at him a question about one of the most onerous regulations in the State – and that is health department Restaurant inspections.

    http://www.healthspace.com/clients/vdh/henrico/web.nsf/home.xsp

    if you take a look at the inspections – they are pretty intensive and almost surely add costs both labor and equipment and I think one could argue the money issue legitimately.

    so what say folks – get rid of restaurant inspections so we can have cheaper food?

  11. WHERE Regulations come from:

    Amtrak Crash – the train did not have known and available technology known as positive train control.

    the use and non-use of it was a option left to the operator of the train.

    so now the question is – should the govt require the use of that technology – even if it increases costs?

    what say you Jim Bacon (and others who have views)?

    Bonus Question – if Uber was running trains – would this be one of those regulation issues that affect the cost of the service?

    • There has never been a regulation in the US that didn’t spawn complaints of overkill and over-cost.

      It’s the nature of regulators to seek a lowest-common-denominator approach to curing whatever abuse brought about the regulation.

      It’s also the nature of regulators to be bureaucrats — more interested in/concerned about personal power and CYA than in truly helping the public.

      These are givens. Now, is it worth those negatives to achieve the positive results that a well written regulation may bring?

      Sometimes, yes.

      BTW, the Amtrak train had “positive train control” on board and operational. It was that section of track that didn’t have it implemented, because of interference with the ground-based transmitters.

      • well the ground-based transmitters are not an acceptable excuse unless this is the only place on the entire train network that has it.

        with regulations – the laws can – and are written to allow or not allow discretion on the parts of the administrators to regulate specifics.

        it’s just bogus to claim they are going rogue.

        if the legislators don’t want flexibility – then specifically craft the law so there is none. Don’t blame legislative laziness and incompetence on the regulators.

        Don’t want CO2 regulated – do what they’e done for mercury in tuna – specifically deny the mercury to be on the label. Don’t want lead in gasoline – then specifically outlaw it and do not allow regulations to allow it in some cases… don’t want the FDA denying some drugs on the market – then specifically exclude them from that regulation. It’s not like Congress doesn’t already festoon laws with loopholes and exemptions…etc..

        the anti-regulation jihad is ignorant , neanderthal, cynical – and wretchedly dishonest.

        the number 1 reason for regulation is not regulators – it’s people being harmed who demand something be done about it.

  12. It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest a GPS opportunity here. If my son could locate pilings for the parallel span of the CBBT within a CM in six fathoms perhaps the train could be automatically speed controlled or at leaset blow the engineer’s ears out with an onboard siren.

    • there are technical solutions – any argument that it could not be accomplished are basically excuses.

      besides, if we can do self-driving cars and drones why not self-driving trains?

  13. THIS is where regulation comes from:

    Frontline’s ‘The Trouble With Chicken’ Reveals Why So Much Chicken Makes You Sick

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/13/the-trouble-with-chicken-documentary-pbs-salmonella_n_7270998.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

    read it and if it does not make you want to wretch.. you have a stronger stomach than I.

    Do you think the folks whose 18 month year old son who had to have his brain exposed – think we are “over regulated” and that regulators have gone “rogue”?

    two sides to the regulation story. we often cherry-pick what we think is horrible regulation and ignore the other thousand and the others that don’t exist and allow companies like Foster Farms to put profits over harm to 18 months old children.

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