Sudden increase in cost of common drug concerns many - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sudden increase in cost of common drug concerns many

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Many people may not recognize the name, but they have probably used it for a health problem at one point.

Doctors use doxycycline to treat a wide range of issues, including everything from acne to Lyme disease, anthrax exposure and even heartworm in our pets.

However, the once cheap and effective drug has now dramatically gone up in price, and that has health professionals concerned.

Hospitals like Vanderbilt University Medical Center keep doxycycline in stock, but some folks worry the cure for their ailment could now be financially out of reach.

"It's a change that occurred overnight," said Vanderbilt pharmacy manager Michael O'Neil.

Not long ago, the pharmacy at Vanderbilt's hospital could purchase a 50-count bottle of 100 mg doxycycline tablets for $10, but now the same bottle costs a staggering $250.

"That's concerning to us, both as citizens and practitioners, when you see a huge increase like this in a price of a drug," O'Neil said.

Vanderbilt keeps thousands of doxycycline pills on hand in the event of a bioterrorist attack, like anthrax, and O'Neil said replacing expired pills is prohibitive.

"This one is just hurting us when we need to replace the medication," he said.

But it's the most vulnerable who are in the most jeopardy. For a pet, a heartworm diagnosis can be a death sentence without doxycycline.

Veterinarian Dr. Joshua Vaughn of the Columbia Hospital for Animals is already seeing the tragic results.

"We had one patient who we diagnosed with heartworm. We recommended heartworm treatment, but when they saw the total dollar amount, they elected not to treat the dog at all," Vaughn said.

While manufacturers say they are having problems with raw supply, many in the medical community see greed as an overriding factor.

Vaughn said he wrote a recent prescription for doxycycline that cost $77. This week, the price increased to nearly $3,000.

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