Big Pharma’s Bitter Pill: How Latest Price Hikes Put Lives at Risk

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Across America, millions rely on life-saving medication to manage chronic illnesses. But for many, these essential drugs are becoming increasingly out of reach. Why? Because Big Pharma, in its insatiable pursuit of profit, is jacking up prices at a staggering rate, leaving patients with a stark choice: their health or their financial well-being.

Companies including Novo Nordisk NOVO, the maker of Ozempic, and Eli Lilly, which sells Mounjaro, raised list prices on 775 brand-name drugs during the first half of January, according to an analysis for The Wall Street Journal by 46brooklyn Research, a nonprofit drug-pricing analytics group. 

The drugmakers raised the prices of their medicines by a median of 4.5%, though the prices of some drugs rose by around 10% or higher, according to the research group. The median increase is higher than the inflation rate, which totaled 3.4% in December.

The recent wave of price hikes is nothing short of outrageous. They paint a grim picture of an industry prioritizing shareholder returns over the lives of its patients.

Big Pharma justifies these hikes by citing research and development costs. But let’s not forget the massive profits these companies already rake in. In 2022, the top 10 pharmaceutical companies raked in a combined $500 billion revenue. Recouping R&D costs isn’t the driving force behind these price gouges.

Price hikes above inflation for big-selling medicines, in particular, are likely to sharpen scrutiny of the industry just as the Biden administration is taking new steps to rein in the federal government’s drug spending, including plans to start negotiations over pricing. 

The consequences are dire. Patients are being forced to ration their medication, skip doses, or go without entirely. This can lead to devastating health complications, hospitalizations, and even death. It’s a moral crisis, plain and simple.

Yet high drug costs are such a potent political issue—for both Democrats and Republicans—that pharmaceutical companies have moderated their list-price increases after several years of raising them by double-digit-percentages annually.

Last year, the U.S. government began imposing penalties on companies that raised the list prices of medicines above the inflation rate. This year, it is scheduled to begin the first-ever negotiations with companies over the prices of 10 drugs, including popular blood-thinner Eliquis.

We can’t accept this as the new normal. We need to hold Big Pharma accountable and demand real change. Here are some ways we can fight back:

  • Raise awareness: Share stories of individuals impacted by price hikes. Let the public know the human cost of Big Pharma’s greed.

  • Contact your representatives: Demand stricter drug pricing regulations and support legislation prioritizing patient affordability.

  • Explore alternative options: Investigate generic medications or participate in drug assistance programs.

This isn’t just about affordability; it’s about basic human rights. Everyone deserves access to the medication they need to survive and thrive. We need to stand together and say enough is enough. Big Pharma can’t keep profiting off of our pain. It’s time to make healthcare a right, not a privilege.

Remember, your voice matters. Share this post, speak on social media, and join the fight for affordable healthcare. Together, we can make a difference.