Report Shows Hundreds of Drug Price Increases During Pandemic

A report from GoodRx, which tracks costs for pharmaceuticals, found that drug makers recorded more than 800 price increases for medicines this year, even as the coronavirus pandemic upended the global economy.

As of July 7, pharmaceutical companies raised the cost of 42 medicines by an average of 3.3%. The analysis, which does not include physician-administered treatments such as infusions, found that the rate of increase is in line with previous years, but the number of branded drugs seeing price hikes was higher than in July 2019. The rising costs come even after the Trump administration has vowed to include drug price controls in its COVID-19 relief packages.

July alone saw increases in several treatments for respiratory illnesses like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including AstraZeneca’s glycopyrrolate/formoterol fumarate (Bevespi Aerosphere; up 5%) and roflumilast (Daliresp; up 6%), and United Therapeutics’ treprostinil (Tyvaso; up 4.5%). The cost for treprostinil has increased by a total of 12.8% in 2020, the report authors noted. AstraZeneca also increased the price for their heartburn medicine esomeprazole (Nexium) by 6% this month.

PhRMA, the industry lobbying group, said that the GoodRx data pushes a false narrative by focusing on list prices for these drugs rather than the costs to patients once rebates and discounts have been taken into account.

Source: Politico, July 7, 2020.