April 15, 2015 – Generic Dearth


Anchor lead: What has led to the shortage of generic drugs? Elizabeth Tracey reports

It’s easy to call the skyrocketing prices of generic drugs a simple case of greed on the part of manufacturers.  But Jeremy Greene, an internal medicine physician at Johns Hopkins and author of a recent book on the subject, says the problem is really one of multiple stages in the life of a drug.

Greene: What I would call this is this problem of the third phase in the development of biomedical technology. The first phase is when it’s newly new, patent protected and innovators are recouping their costs and its high priced but people are excited about it.  the second phase this generic pipeline when its newly old and the generic industry is rushing in to compete and drive prices down. There is a third phase when a drug is simply old. And it’s less attractive, fewer and fewer manufacturers might make it so some drugs we never would have thought would have become expensive, old antibiotics that are very useful, are suddenly thousands of dollars instead of pennies a pill.  :35

Greene says some kind of federal oversight in order to preserve availability of these drugs would likely be helpful.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.