The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) recently released a statement shedding light on Pfizer’s decision to increase the price of 41 drugs come January and bury the news:

“Pfizer can try to bury the announcement of 41 drug price hikes in a Friday news dump—but it can’t hide the real-world impact on millions of patients who are about to see the price of their medications go up. Right before the holiday season, hardworking families will now be forced to re-evaluate budgets for next year.”

The price increase applies to popular drugs like Xalkori (for lung cancer), Lyrica, Zoloft, Celebrex, Chantix, and Norvasc (for blood pressure). Many of these list prices increase current prices by 9.4% and double digit percentages.

This move by Pfizer comes after other drug companies pledged to increase drug prices only once per year and no more than 10%. With this second round of price increase in 12 months, Pfizer may well be testing how much it can get away with. This second round of price increase separates them from rival companies who have pledged to keep increases to a minimum. Usually these price increases happen around June or July with little notice from the public.

The pledge to keep price increases to a minimum was brought on by mounting pressure from patients, health care providers, Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs), doctors, and various organizations to stay the out-of-control costs of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. Not to mention the fact that these drug companies are trying to avoid congressional action.

Organizations like CSRxP are working to keepi major drug companies accountable. According to CSRxP, Big Pharma’s strategy consists of three prongs:

  1. Price gouging - Price hikes only help Big Pharma and leave the rest of us wondering how we will be able to afford medications that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars a month.
  2. Blocking competition - Abbvie, the maker of Humira, the world’s best-selling drug, has been able to extend their patent by filing new patents that exclude generic makers from making it cheaper for consumers. They have been able to increase the price of Humira 12 times over the past 5 years.
  3. Blaming others - Big Pharma CEOs are quick to condemn health insurers and PBMs without acknowledging their role in the outrageous prices consumers have to pay. The reality is that health insurers and PBMs are the middlemen advocating for lower prices for consumers. They may then pass on the cost however way they need to, which may contribute to an increase in drug prices as well. It’s the pharmaceutical companies that set the price in the first place and that set the bar for any negotiations.

It’s important more than ever to slow down the costs of drugs in the U.S. With the current system, the trajectory to more exorbitant prices in the next 5 years is all but set. We at the NC Coalition for Fiscal Health aim to keep North Carolinians aware about these increases.

Have the sky-high costs of healthcare in our state impacted you and/or your family’s lives? Do you want to do something about it? Join the Coalition now to receive updates about new legislation and policies that will affect YOUR healthcare. Sign up now!

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