A 60-pill bottle of the drug combo, Vimovo, cost $138 in 2013 when AstraZeneca sold it to Horizon. The bottle now costs $2,979 after Horizon raised the price on 11 occasions.
Vimovo is a combination of the common painkiller naproxen and esomeprazole. Naproxen is the active ingredient in Bayer’s over-the-counter painkiller Aleve. Bought separately, the two can cost as little as $36 total.
Horizon also makes the two-in-one painkiller Duexis, which pairs painkiller ibuprofen with the antacid famotidine. The company charges $2,979 for a 90-pill bottle, while the drugs would cost as little as $15 if bought separately.
Nevertheless, Duexis and Vimovo are sometimes covered by US health insurance companies. And Horizon made $134 million in sales from both products in the first nine months of 2017, Rea said.
Rea added that he saw no reason patients couldn’t simply take the separate, over-the-counter versions of the drugs. But a spokesperson for Horizon argued that “there are no FDA-approved generic, over-the-counter, or clinically equivalent medicines to Duexis and Vimovo, and any assertion otherwise is completely inaccurate.”
In other words, the price hikes are a side effect of over-regulation (two inexpensive drugs don’t have the FDA seal-of-approval that the combined drug does) and the insurance-for-everything model (which isolates consumers from the actual cost of particular items).