Hospitals pay exorbitant prices for gray-market drugs in short supply

A congressional investigation into the so-called "gray market" of prescription drugs revealed that hospitals are paying exorbitant prices, sometimes hundreds of times higher than they normally would, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) presented last week. Pointing to a July report, the senators said hospitals are both angered and confused by "scalpers," that is, gray-market companies (non-manufacturer/wholesale distributers) who upcharge drugs in short supply, particularly injectable cancer drugs. For example, a hospital might purchase a drug at $600 per vial that a pharmacy company might have purchased at $7, the report noted. More than two-thirds of drug distribution chains said prescription drugs are leaked in the gray market through pharmacies. Report (.pdf)