KEY TAKEAWAY: As it appears that the criticism of drug prices from politicians and the President has quieted down, companies are more aggressively and broadly pursuing drug price increases again.
Bipartisan efforts to lower drug prices in Washington have not prevented drugmakers from going about their business and raising drug prices, according to Wells Fargo & Co.
In fact, analysts at the firm found that pharmaceutical companies are getting aggressive in their price hikes again. Wells Fargo’s analysis of Wolters Kluwer PriceRx data found that companies have raised medicine costs by 27% on average last month, with a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd hiking the price for a generic anti-diuretic by 909%. Closely held Epic Pharma LLC came second on the list of top increases, jacking up prices on two versions of its drug by 399%. Merck & Co., Fresenius SE, Novartis AG’s Sandoz, and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc. were also on the list.
So far in 2019, more than 3,400 drugs have boosted their prices, a 17% increase compared with the roughly 2,900 drug price increases at the same time in 2018, according to a new analysis by Rx Savings Solutions, a consultant to health plans and employers.
The average price hike for those 3,400 drugs stands at 10.5% or about 5 times the rate of inflation, the study found. About 41 drugs have boosted their prices by more than 100%, including one version of the antidepressant fluoxetine — also known as Prozac — whose cost has surged 879%, Rx Savings Solutions said.
Drug prices are rising because of a combination of pressure from shareholders to deliver higher profits and what Rea calls an “inelastic market.”