Business as usual for drug companies

  • Despite Trump’s plan to lower drug prices companies still hiked prices far more often than they cut them. This year through the end of July, there were 4,412 brand-name drug price increases and 46 price cuts, a ratio of 96-to-1.
  • Pharma continues to try and confuse the issue of drug pricing by blaming hospitals and PBM’s.

PhRMA, pharma’s lobbying mouthpiece, has tried to divert attention away from pharma companies for the high cost of prescription drugs.   But in reality nothing has changed for big pharma.

According to AP “over the first seven months of the year, there were 96 price hikes for every price cut for prescription drugs. Companies still hiked prices far more often than they cut them. This year through the end of July, there were 4,412 brand-name drug price increases and 46 price cuts, a ratio of 96-to-1.

In the U.S., drug pricing is far from transparent. Manufacturers typically set high list prices, but then negotiate rebates and discounts with middlemen, such as prescription benefit managers, to get preferential insurance coverage for their products. Many consumers never see the list price, though rising drug prices generally put pressure on insurers to raise rates. Patients with high-deductible or no insurance often get stuck being charged the full list price.

To see where the money is really going one only has to look at the profits of PBM’s which have been increasing rapidly.   The idea that including the list price for prescription drugs in DTC ads is laughable as list price doesn’t mean anything.

If we are serious about reducing the costs of prescription drugs we need to reduce the number of companies that come between patients and medications.  Drug companies need to set a price for a drug based on a number of factors, including the value to the patient and society, but they also need to ensure that people who can’t afford their prescription drugs get them at little or no cost.  When a woman goes on Twitter and says that she is rationing her insulin because of cost someone within the industry needs to reach put to her to help.

Healthcare is too profitable for too many organizations.  They hide behind the lack of transparency, but eventually patients are learning the truth.  Change is coming and all the lobbying dollars in the system are not going to help.

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