Pharmaceutical Prices Continue to Rise

An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) has found that drug companies raise prices more often than they lower them, a trend that has been consistent through the first seven months of 2018. Calls from President Donald Trump for drug companies to voluntarily lower prices have had only a modest effect.

Researchers analyzed data about price changes over the first seven months of each year from 2015 through 2018, totaling 26,176 price changes. While 2018 saw fewer price increases than past years, companies still hiked prices 96 times for each reduction this year.

Drug price reductions were more common in June and July of this year than over the same two months in past years, likely resulting from the Trump administration’s May 2018 demand that pharmaceutical companies immediately begin reducing prices. However, price increases were still 16 times more common than decreases.

Though the administration has encouraged drug manufacturers to lower prices on their own, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar stressed that the department also is pursuing other avenues. “I am not counting on the altruism of pharma companies lowering their prices,” Mr. Azar told the AP, pointing to strategies such as increasing generic competition and leveraging government health plans’ negotiating power.

Source: The Associated Press, September 24, 2018.