OK, Mel, can you provide an example of a Drug X that costs $50 overseas and $5000 here?
However, whether or not that's true, would you feel better if the situation were reversed and a drug company charged folks in a Third World country $5000 for a drug we can buy for $50 here in the States? No one would feel very good about that. It seems to me that if they want to market their drug to the world...and let's face it, people in underdeveloped countries get sick and need drugs, too.....and if they want to stay in business, they have to develop a pricing strategy that allows them to do that profitably. I just read a study by the CATO institute that looked at flaws in the way the different prices charged in different countries are usually compared. The drug companies have to deal with certain countries that subsidize costs, others that impose price controls, others where the cost of living is woefully low, others that barely control the manufacture of drugs and allow them to be sold over the counter and without prescription, and still generate a profit and sufficient money for continuing R&D.
It may well be true that the particular drug I need is incredibly expensive, but according to the CATO study, the American prices are not out of whack when ALL drugs sold in developed countries are compared. On the other hand, if only 10 drugs are compared, the results may look very skewed one way or the other.
I think the best idea I've seen in this thread is that patients should ask for older, proven, less expensive drugs whenever possible, and certainly for generic equivalents when they're available.