Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs in January

Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs in January
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Pfizer will increase the list prices of 41 medicines by 5 percent starting Jan. 15, the company announced Friday, ending a freeze on price increases it instituted over the summer.

The drugmaker agreed in July to defer price increases for the rest of 2018 after President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' MORE publicly shamed the company on Twitter, writing that it was "taking advantage of the poor" by raising prices "for no reason."

But just two weeks into the new year, Pfizer will raise prices for 10 percent of its drug portfolio by 5 percent, except for three products that will increase in price by 3 percent and another product that will increase by 9 percent.

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Pfizer said it will give bigger discounts on the drugs to insurance companies to offset the increases in list prices, and it expects those savings to be passed on to patients.

"Given the higher rebates and discounts, we expect that the healthcare system will share those benefits with patients so they do not experience higher costs for their medicines," the company said in a statement.

Drug manufacturers like Pfizer give rebates to insurers to secure exclusivity on their drugs and boost their marketshare.

The drug industry has long pushed for insurers to pass those savings on prescriptions to customers at the pharmacy counter. But many insurers say they use the savings to lower premiums for everyone, instead of passing savings for a specific drug to the patients who buy them.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the announced list price increases on Friday "further illustrate the perverse incentives of America’s drug pricing system."

"Drug companies raising their prices and offsetting them with higher rebates benefits everyone but the consumer, who routinely pays out of pocket based on list price. President Trump and Secretary Azar remain committed to lowering drug prices and reducing out of pocket costs, and will continue to take bold action to restructure this broken market,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is among those who argue that the arrangement between drugmakers and insurers leads to sick people subsidizing the healthy.

The patients most affected by price increases are usually those with high-deductible health plans, which require members pay a certain amount toward their own health care before insurance kicks in.

Patients who don't have insurance are also impacted by price increases, since they have to pay full list price for drugs.

Updated: 6:05 p.m.