What’s Really Going on with Drug Prices?

drug prices pill bottle
Chief Executive Officer

Are prices up? Down? Staying the Same? The answer depends on who you listen to and when.

In an atmosphere of ever-increasing healthcare costs, it’s refreshing to see recent pharmaceutical company announcements about reducing or holding the line on prices. Or is it? Pharmaceutical Manufacturers have been in the hot seat for months amidst pressures from the Trump Administration, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, to lower drug prices. In a July 9th, 2018 tweet, President Trump attempted to shame the largest U.S. drug maker for hiking prices after he earlier said industry players were planning “massive” price reductions. He said Pfizer and others “should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason” while suggesting some unspecified retaliation.

Pfizer also isn’t alone in raising its drug prices during the Trump administration. Pfizer’s July price hikes were its second round this year after the industry’s standard round of increases in January from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and more. For example, AbbVie’s 9.7% price hike on Humira will cost the U.S. health system $1.2 billion this year according to a Wells Fargo Analyst and in 2017, the blood cancer drug Revlimid by Celgene jumped twofold from $9,853 in 2010 to $18,546 according to a report from the Patients for Affordable Drugs Action.

Now, after continued increases, some Big Pharma Manufacturers have responded to the “pressure.” Merck announced that it would lower prices 10 percent or more on several minor products that have generic counterparts. However, they will not lower the cost of their top-selling, expensive cancer and diabetes products. Merck’s key diabetes product, Januvia, has enjoyed increases nearing 40% over the past several years. The move follows recent announcements by Pfizer and Novartis that they would freeze price increases for the rest of the year.

It will be interesting to watch if the current inefficient healthcare system will continue to jockey back and forth in the political environment and the court of public opinion. Will real prices on expensive drugs change? Either way, RemedyOne will be here to help guide you through the potential disruption. We’re working to lead the industry to better quality and lower cost.

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