The pharma industry is vital in healthcare, contributing significantly to medical advancements and improved patient outcomes. However, the pricing strategies employed by pharmaceutical companies have become a topic of intense scrutiny and debate. The gap between the cost of producing drugs and their market prices has raised questions about the ethics and sustainability of the current pricing model.

January’s chilly winds seem especially biting this year, and it’s not just the weather. Drugmakers, like clockwork, have unleashed a fresh wave of price hikes, sending shivers down the spines of patients and policymakers alike. These annual price gouges are nothing new, but this year, they feel particularly egregious, exposing a gaping disconnect between Big Pharma’s ivory towers and the harsh realities faced by those who rely on their products.

(STAT NEWS)

  • At the start and halfway points of each year, many pharmaceutical companies raise drug prices to bolster revenue and reportedly fund new research.
  • A new STAT analysis of mid-year price hikes has found that, despite these new requirements, drug prices are on the rise. Indeed, on July 1, drugmakers raised the wholesale price on over 123 drugs in what’s the largest number of mid-year price hikes since 2013.
  • The median price increase for these drugs was 3.4%, just above the one-year inflation rate of 3.2%. So, over half of these medications could potentially face rebates, including 10 Pfizer drugs whose prices increased by 10%, such as long-acting penicillin Bicillin and blood thinner Fragmin.

Chutzpah. It’s the only way to describe Merck’s plan to sue the government over the plan to negotiate drug prices, saying it is unconstitutional. Merck said in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that Medicare’s drug-price negotiation program violated the company’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. This is a prime example of what’s wrong with pharma.

SUMMARY: With much attention on the public’s view on Medicare drug price negotiations, the latest KFF Tracking Poll finds large majorities support allowing the federal government to negotiate, and this support holds steady even after the public is provided the arguments being presented by parties on both sides of the legislative debate (83% total, 95% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 71% of Republicans).

QUICK READ:

  • The February 2019 KFF Health Tracking Poll finds a majority of adults, including seniors, are in favor of many policy options aimed at curbing prescription drug costs.
  • There is majority support – across party identification – for many current policy proposals like international reference pricing and transparency in drug advertisements.
  • Both of these policy proposals are supported by large majorities of Democrats and independents, and a majority of Republicans.
  • There is also bipartisan support for allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price for people with Medicare, which covers 60 million Americans.