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The Skyrocketing Price of Tetracycline is Shocking!

The cost of a 50-year-old antibiotic (tetracycline) is outrageously high. How can drug companies justify the price tag? How can you find affordable drugs?
The Skyrocketing Price of Tetracycline is Shocking!

The antibiotic tetracycline was first marketed in 1967. That means it is 50 years old and is available generically. The price of tetracycline should be very low. This reader discovered quite the opposite:

Q. I recently asked my doctor for a prescription for tetracycline to clear up my skin. Years ago, when I was 19 and my face looked like raw hamburger, this medication worked a miracle and was not at all expensive.

When I got to the pharmacy to pick up my new prescription, I was told my out-of-pocket cost for a 30-day supply would be $900, even though I have insurance. I can’t afford that! I don’t know anyone who could. What happened to tetracycline?

A. Like you, we were shocked at the price of this old generic antibiotic. Forty years ago, the brand name form of tetracycline (Achromycin V) cost just over $10 for a hundred 500 mg pills. The cash price today for 60 tetracycline pills is over $900.

Cheaper in Canada:

In Canada the price for 100 pills of tetracycline is under $50. We cannot explain why Americans pay so much more for this old medication. It is not that hard to make. Competition should drive the price down. But to our dismay, capitalism does not seem to be working when it comes to some generic drugs.

The Generic Drug Scandal of Price Fixing:

We cannot say for sure that tetracycline has been caught up in the price fixing scandal. In case you missed the headlines, 40 attorneys general allege that some prominent generic drug manufacturers may have colluded. There are charges of price fixing. There may also have been “agreements among competitors to allocate a given market so as to avoid competing with one another on price.”

What To Do About High Drug Prices:

If you want to learn more about the generic drug scandal, you will find our Guide to Saving Money on Medicine of great interest. We document the dramatic rise in generic drug prices over the last few years and discuss ways you can protect yourself from the greed that now seems rampant within the pharmaceutical industry. Is it possible to save money safely by buying drugs from Canada?

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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