KEY TAKEAWAY: 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 Saving 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.

  • Pharma continues to be portrayed as the villain in pricing but there are other villains who are escaping scrutiny.
  • The 5 largest conglomerates combining health insurance and pharmacy benefits are on track this year to be bigger than the 5 preeminent tech companies.
  • Half of people in fair to poor health are uninsured or struggle with affordability.
  • Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose five percent to an average $19,616 this year, extending a seven-year run of moderate increases.

  • Black-box negotiation processes” between drugmakers, insurers and the middlemen who haggle behind closed doors over how much money changes hands are hidden from patients.
  • Drug companies set the list price of drugs at insanely high levels solely to ensure the highest possible payment by insurers once all the haggling is complete.
  • There are markups along the supply chain by wholesalers and retailers, which want as big a piece of the profits.

Prices increased for every brand-name drug of the top 20 most-prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors in the last five years. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]On average, prices for these drugs increased 12 percent every year for the last five years—approximately ten times higher than the average annual rate of inflation. [/inlinetweet]Twelve out of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors had their prices increased by over 50 percent in the five-year period. Six of the 20 had price increases of over 100 percent. In one case, the weighted average wholesale acquisition cost for a single drug increased by 477 percent over a five-year period.