More than three dozen pharmaceutical companies welcomed the new year with sweeping price hikes for hundreds of drugs, according to a new analysis from Rx Savings Solutions, first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The drugs that saw a price hike on Jan. 1 ranged from generic drugs and blood pressure drugs to branded prescriptions such as the dry eye treatment Restasis. The average price increase overtook inflation by 6.5 percent, with some drugs showing double-digit increases, running counter to many drug companies’ promises to keep such periodic increases below 10 percent.
Despite public and political pressure on drug companies to contain rising drug prices, Tuesday’s broad gains come as no surprise. In December, Reuters reported that 28 drug makers had reported to California agencies that they planned to raise drug prices. (A recently passed law in the Golden State requires drug manufacturers to be notified if they plan to increase U.S. listing prices by more than 16 percent over a two-year period.)
“Requests and public shaming have not worked,” Michael Rea, chief executive of RX Savings Solutions, told Reuters at the time. His company helps health plans and employers search for cheaper prescription drugs. “We expect the number of increases in 2019 to be even greater than in years past.”
Drug makers that have or plan to raise prices in 2019 include pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. In July, the company made headlines by announcing that it was pausing its price hikes pending new health policies to be enacted by the Trump administration. The move came after President Trump tweeted that Pfizer and other drug companies should be “ashamed” of their pricing. Trump later praised Pfizer for its response with the price hike, tweeting, “We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!” But with no new policy to keep prices low, Pfizer has reversed its plans and now plans to raise the price of 41 of its drugs in mid-January, as previously planned.
Other pharmaceutical companies that have or plan to raise prices include Allergan PLC, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Amgen Inc., AstraZeneca PLC, Biogen Inc. and Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC. Hikma increased her blood pressure medication enalaprilat by no less than 30 percent on Tuesday.