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Drug companies make eye drops too big -- and we pay for the waste

Drug companies make eye drops too big -- and we pay for the waste
Posted at 9:21 AM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 09:21:28-04

Who's to blame for high prescription drug prices? 

Nonprofit investigative journalism group ProPublica has accused drug companies of knowingly wasting their customers' money through an investigation of eye drops that are preposterously large for human eyeballs.

"They had no interest in people, their pocketbooks or what the cost of drugs meant," said Dr. Alan Robin, a Baltimore ophthalmologist and adjunct professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.

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Pricey eye medications that treat conditions like glaucoma can cost hundreds of dollars for a monthlong supply, the report said, but droppers that dispense too much liquid in one squeeze often end up overflowing patients' eyeballs and rolling down their cheeks.

"If it spills out, it's just wasted," said Bill York, who has a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry and is now retired. "It's not doing any good."

York's research team created a 16-microliter drop that's half the size of most drops on the market and published research in 1992.

"The microdrop delivery system worked," York said. The drop "was manufacturable. It reduced stinging and the amount of drug needed to produce the same biologic effect. Excess drug draining out of the eye would be significantly reduced."

Twenty-five years later, the problem persists. ProPublica's report claims it was all about profits. None of the drug companies ProPublica contacted chose to discuss legal memos or why they haven't pursued a smaller drop.

Read the full report at the website here.