High-dollar medication illustrates cost problem

My husband was recently prescribed a gel for his actinic keratoses (those little precancerous spots we all get in the Southwest). When he brought it home, I was appalled to see the price: $356.43! Then we noticed that the insurance company had paid another $371.06 for this 3.5-ounce tube of gel.

Wondering what magic, rare ingredient was in this stuff, I did some research and discovered that it is diclofenac sodium, or Voltaren, an old, off-patent drug for pain/arthritis symptoms, much like aspirin and ibuprofen. You can buy the pill form of Voltaren at Walmart for $4. So, the drug company (PharmDerm) has taken a $4 drug, put it in K-Y jelly, repatented it, and now its worth $727.49? Really?

This kind of unregulated, predatory, obscene pricing is part of why health-care costs are skyrocketing and costing all of us dearly. Yes, we do need regulation for this industry. Pure capitalism is just not the right way to run our health-care system.

Aline Schwob