What's driving the rapid rise in dermatology drug prices?
- Prices for brand-name prescription dermatology products shot up 500% between 2009 and 2015, according to an article published in JAMA Dermatology.
- The results were based on a survey of four retail pharmacies, including pharmacies at Walgreens, Costco, Sam's Club, and CVS Pharmacy. While the final analysis showing a 500% increase was based on 19 individual dermatology drugs, there were roughly 120 drugs included in the study overall.
- One of Valeant's skin cancer drugs increased 1,800% to $30,320 per year over the period between 2009 and 2015. Companies such as GlaxoSmithkline (GSK) and Novartis also had drugs that increased sharply in price.
While it's not clear exactly why dermatology drug prices are increasing so rapidly, the trend is noticeable. Price hikes for dermatology drugs have even outpaced price growth in the industry overall.
Some examples: the retail price of Valeant's skin-cancer drug, Carac cream, increased 1800% since 2009 to $2,865 (increasing apace with its other skin-cancer drug). The retail price of Olux-E foam, a treatment for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, increased 10-fold from a year ago, jumping from $45 to $450. Novartis' antifungal cream Oxistat increased seven-fold in price since 2009 to $545. These are but a few of the examples highlighted in the study.
Many of these drugs have generic competition, helping offset the impact on consumers. But the core question remains: "What underpins the sudden growth in dermatology drugs' prices?"