There have been plenty of times where we didn’t think Big Pharma could sink any lower. For instance, remember how the average oncology drug for cancer patients doubled in cost from 2006 to 2015? Then there was the time 20 drugmakers were found to be participating in a coordinated price-gouging scheme. And we’re sure that no one has forgotten that pharma dollars were directly linked to opioid deaths.
Now comes word of a new contender in the question of just how low can they go?
Bloomberg.com reports that pharma companies are once again ratcheting up the price hikes on drugs. Analysts at Wells Fargo & Co. found that drugmakers increased the cost of their medications by an average of 27% in June.
URGENT: SB 432, which will enable Big Pharma to raise drug costs even higher, just moved one step closer to passing.
Not to be outdone, a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd raised the price of its generic anti-diuretic by a mind-boggling 909%. In the analysis of Wolters Kluwer PriceRx data, Wells Fargo found that Epic Pharma LLC ramped up two versions of a drug by 399%.
Merck & Co., Fresenius SE, Novartis AG’s Sandoz, and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc. were all highlighted for significant price gains.
In a sign of Big Pharma’s determination to continue pricing Americans out of the market, Wells Fargo analyst David Maris said that there were more price increases in June compared to the previous month. Drugmakers raised prices for 106 medications in June, while 101 saw a price increase in May.
It’s also just the latest indication of an entire industry that lacks any and all self-awareness. Earlier this year, President Trump and politicians from both sides of the aisle applied intense pressure in an effort to get a better handle on the drug crisis and drive down prices.
Despite those attempts, which included hosting executives from pharma companies before panels of lawmakers on multiple occasions, Big Pharma may be taking advantage of what Wells Fargo’s Maris thinks is a break in the action.
“To us it appears now that the criticism from politicians and the President has quieted down, companies are more aggressively and broadly pursuing drug price increases again,” Maris said. “We are not so confident that the lull in criticism will continue and could foresee more negative headlines in the coming months.”
Though the wholesaler costs cited in the report do not include rebates or discounts and thus are higher than what most consumers are paying out-of-pocket, that doesn’t alleviate the cause for concern.
The cost of lifesaving drugs is now outpacing U.S. inflation, and Americans are borrowing more money than ever simply to bankroll their healthcare costs. In fact, about 1 in 8 people needed a loan to put toward funding treatment of some kind. Of that group, nearly 3 million borrowed more than $10,000.
We can only hope that President Trump turns on the heat for Big Pharma again and that the flame is hot enough to make a difference this time.
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