HIGHTOWER: Helping To Stop Drug Price-gouging

Here comes the Little Engine That Could -- it's powered by the extraordinary creativity and gumption of America's ordinary folks.This case begins with a report showing that the prices on top selling prescription drugs jumped by double digits again. The drug makers enjoy extraordinary profits from these price hikes, but those of us who are forced to pay the price (since there is little competition in making many of the medicines), not only find these constant increases unenjoyable, but we can be severely burdened.Consider the 4 million Americans infected with Hepatitis C, a deadly disease that kills 10,000 people a year. To avoid death, infected patients need a treatment kit that involves two drugs taken in tandem. The giant drug-maker Schering-Plough is the sole maker of one of these drugs, Ribavirin, and it charges more than $1,100 a month for it. That's more than people's rent or mortgage payments. In one year, Schering-Plough pocketed $214 million in sales of this Hepatitis C kit.But along comes Fisher Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "We're a corner drugstore, basically," says Betty Stein, one of the three pharmacists who own Fishers. They dealt with a lot of Hepatitis C patients, and they wanted to help them with a cheaper product. By studying the patent laws and finding their own source of Ribavirin powder, Fisher Pharmacy is now in the business of handpacking capsules with this life-saving drug according to the prescriptions of individual patients' doctors. Instead of charging $1,100 a month, Betty Stein and group can do it for $225 a month -- a $900 savings!This is Jim Hightower saying ... The giant drug makers tell us there's no gouging going on, but here's a corner pharmacy that can compound pills by hand, customize them to the patient's need, and beat the mass production price of Schering Plough by 80 percent! They'll make the pills for you too; contact Fisher Pharmacy: 1-888-347-3416.

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