The industry lobby PhRMA said GoodRx’s data presents a false story “by focusing solely on list prices and ignoring the dynamics of the biopharmaceutical market that controls drug spending.”
List prices, or the sticker cost of a drug, do not include discounts, rebates, and other concessions that pharmaceutical companies give to payers to ensure preferential coverage of products. Those concessions amounted to $ 175 billion in 2019, according to SSR Health, but also typically covered drugs and sometimes preferred them over rivals in their category.
PhRMA spokesperson Katie Koziara said research from health data company IQVIA shows that overall price increases are below annual inflation. “But it often doesn’t feel that way for patients,” Koziara said in a statement. “We need to adapt the healthcare system to work better for patients by ensuring that discounts and rebates are shared with patients at the pharmacy counter and that insurance returns to insurance.”
The Trump administration left a plan last year to scrap the manufacturer’s rebates and switch to an option to pass rebates to patients over concerns that the change would raise premiums for seniors in Medicare Part D. Several outspoken critics of the discount rule, such as former White House domestic policy adviser Joe Grogan and former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, have since left the administration.
The biggest price increases recorded so far this month have been for the ADHD drug Adzenys XR and the so-called female Viagra known as Addyi. Neos Therapeutics, maker of the chewable sweet flavored Adzenys, raised the price by 10 percent. According to GoodRx, the drug’s average cash price is $ 439 for a month.
Ironshore Pharmaceuticals has also made a 6.1 percent price hike for ADorn drug Jornay PM.
Addyi manufacturer Sprout Pharmaceuticals increased the price of the pill by 9.3 percent to a new list price of $ 478 for a month’s supply. Although the FDA approved Addyi in 2015, it has struggled to gain popularity and the drug manufacturer halved its price to $ 400 in 2018.
Some hikes are only the latest in years of regular walks. Biogen raised the price of Tysabri against multiple sclerosis by 3.5 percent this month, the same margin that raised the drug twice in 2019.
Dynavax raised the price for its adult hepatitis B vaccine, Heplisav-B, by 4.7 percent to $ 120.
In general, drugs that increase in price are special drugs that few people use. But most of them were already expensive and continued to increase in price, ”said Tori Marsh, GoodRx’s health insights analyst. The company continues to track price changes throughout the month.
Critics were quick to quash the recent price hikes. The industry “ sticks to the business-as-usual, price-increasing playbook, ” said Lauren Aronson, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, in a statement. “Participating in price increases during a pandemic, while receiving billions of dollars from taxpayers to help develop COVID-19 treatments, demonstrates why policymakers should act,” she added.
Four House Democrats and a Republican have recently put forward a few bills related to drug pricing and price transparency, but in both cases they focus on Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, not the industry as a whole. The MMAPPP Act, sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakelowsky (D-Ill.), Would block the market exclusivity for taxpayer-funded Covid-19 drugs and require the federal government to ensure affordable prices; the TRACK Act, sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) is said to create a database of federally funded research for Covid-19 treatments, including terms of agreements with manufacturers.
Manufacturers have received over a billion dollars from the United States government to develop vaccines and treatments for coronavirus.
A broader legislative effort in the Senate Financial Committee sponsored by President Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) faltered recently after Grassley accused Democrats of running away from what was once a two-pronged measure. The bill would have fined drug manufacturers who rose prices above inflation, but many Senate Republicans objected to applying that measure to Medicare Part D drugs – or those dispensed at a pharmacy.