My Penicillin Will Cost What?

By Douglas Tardio, HealthCost Co-Founder

It’s been 75 years since the miracle drug Penicillin has hit the market. This got me thinking. With the media spotlight shining brightly on the cost of drugs in recent months, I wondered just how much this universally known, widely available drug might actually cost today.

My research began where most Americans start their search—Google. After typing “cost of penicillin” into my browser, the first site brings me to a list of what it calls “fair prices,” ranging from $8 for Amoxicillin all the way up to $1,324 for Bicillin. Wow, that’s the difference between buying lunch and making a mortgage payment for many Americans.

Maybe a general Google search isn’t the right approach. So, I moved on and went directly to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.  After all, they are the federal agency with “drug” in their actual name. Surely, they can give me a price, right?  My search resulted in numerous official-looking meeting notes from as far back as 2000. However, after scanning hundreds of pages—nothing on the cost of penicillin.  

So why is this so hard? Why can’t we do a simple search to find the cost of a drug, whether it’s Penicillin or its various derivatives? There were so many that I had to find another clinical website just to identify all of them.  By now, I’m more than frustrated that I won’t ever be able to find out the real cost of a single dose of Penicillin. But I gave it one more shot and went straight to a drug manufacturer’s website. Finally, I found a price. But…only for the price of the company’s stock. I give!

So, what is my point? Whether you’re searching for the cost of a drug or a healthcare procedure, the experience is the same. Costs are hidden. No one knows exactly what they’re paying for and everyone gets frustrated. I’ve been in the healthcare industry for 25 years. Understanding why the public is not informed on the costs of healthcare procedures and drugs has baffled me for decades. Which is why my partners and I decided to tackle the issue of bringing price transparency to the market. Although we haven’t tackled the cost of drugs, what we have brought you is a searchable database where you can find the exact cost of a healthcare procedure (from an appendectomy to an x-ray) or an office visit (whether that’s with an allergist or a vascular surgeon) so that you can make an informed decision about who you see and what you can afford.

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