- A number of large pharma companies aggressively increased the prices of the most commonly used drugs between 2011 and 2014, according to a new analysis from Reuters. The prices of four of the top 10 drugs more than doubled over that time period.
- Overall, sales of the top 10 drugs increased by 44% to $54 billion, between 2011 and 2014. The companies at the top of the list for price increases include AbbVie, Amgen and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
- The date adds more context to the ongoing debate over high drug prices. Companies like Turing Pharmaceuticals have dominated headlines for 5,000% price increases but smaller, steady increases for major drugs do more to push overall spending up.
Between 2011 and 2014, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis (MS) took a big hit. AbbVie increased the price of Humira, its TNF-inhibitor used to treat RA and other immune-mediated conditions, by more than 126%, according to Reuters.
Although the collective prices of the top 10 most commonly used drugs were up by 44%, total prescription volume was down 22%, suggesting that price increases may have forced some consumers to look for other options, or possibly go without their medications.
Much of the focus on price-gouging has been directed towards Turing Pharma and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. However, larger companies are also increasing prices. Many point to the sometimes significant rebates and discounts on the list prices for drugs, indicating patients are not always seeing the prices quoted in headlines.
However, even if patients are paying full price, costs can percolate through the entire health system as whole, driving up associated prices for insurance, co-pays, and other fees.