Drug companies hike prices to start the year, average 5.3 percent

Drug companies hike prices to start the year, average 5.3 percent
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Drug companies raised prices on a wide range of drugs to start the year, with an average increase of 5.3 percent so far, according to data from the health care consulting firm 3 Axis Advisors. 

The drug price increases include some blockbuster drugs: the price of Humira, which treats arthritis and other conditions, rose 7.4 percent, and the price of Revlimid, which treats multiple myeloma, rose 6 percent, according to the data. 

Drugmakers have traditionally raised prices at the start of a new year, and the data shows that the price increases are continuing, even as outcry over high drug prices rises in Washington. 

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The data shows the increase in the sticker price of the drugs, which does not take into account discounts that pharmacy benefit managers and insurers negotiate from drug companies. How much a patient actually pays at the pharmacy counter depends on the details of their insurance plan. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE, who has railed against high drug prices, has lashed out against drug companies after they announced similar price increases in the past. 

In July 2018, he said Pfizer should be “ashamed” after it announced price increases. Pfizer announced a pause in its price increases after the its CEO later spoke with Trump, but that pause ended at the start of 2019 and the company has been raising prices since then. 

Amy Rose, a Pfizer spokeswoman, said Thursday that the company raised prices for approximately 27 percent of its drugs in the United States by an average of 5.6 percent. 

She added, though, that once discounts to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers are paid out, “the net effect on revenue growth in the U.S. in 2020 is expected to be zero percent.”

Some lawmakers are also pushing for reforms on how pharmacy benefit managers handle these discounts, with a push to require that they be passed onto patients at the pharmacy counter.  

The Trump administration has announced some initiatives to lower drug prices, but none of its major proposals have yet to be finalized and take effect. Congress is also working on a range of drug pricing proposals, but it is unclear what, if anything, can pass. 

Antonio Ciaccia, co-founder of 3 Axis Advisors, said the price increases so far are “at least in the ballpark of prior years.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb, which makes Revlimid, said in a statement that it “is committed to fair and responsible pricing of our medicines,” and would not increase prices by more than 6 percent for 2020.