Big Pharma Firms Hike Drug Prices to ‘Protest Trump’
The hikes go against The President' promise to lower the costs of prescription medications
Almost 30 Big Pharma drug makers have moved to raise the drug price of their of their medicines in an attempt to defy President Donald Trump's policies to halt increases, according to reports.
The hikes go against Trump's promise to lower the costs of prescription medications were he vowed to keep prices low in the world's most expensive pharmaceutical market.
A slew of policies aimed at cutting prices was proposed by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year.
But the measures are not assumed to provide short-term relief and falls short of giving government health agencies direct authority to regulate drug prices
In November, almost 30 drugmakers filed notifications with California agencies revealing that they planned to increase prices in 60 days or longer.
New state law now requires drug companies to notify Californian consumers if they plan to raise the list price on any drug by more than 16 percent over two years.
Reuters received details in response to a public records request to California Correctional Health Care Services, which gives healthcare services to the state's corrections department.
$3 billion is spent annually by the department on drugs for inmates, more than any other states.
'Requests and public shaming haven't worked' to lower drug prices, said Michael Rea, chief executive of RX Savings Solutions.
'We expect the number of 2019 increases to be even greater than in past years.'
Trump has announced in July that Big Pharma drugmaker Pfizer was forced to slash their price hikes.
Trump confirmed his meeting with Pfizer CEO on the current crippling price hikes:
"Just talked with Pfizer CEO and @SecAzar [US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar] on our drug pricing blueprint. Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more. We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!"
The DM reports: The California corrections department documents show that the companies plan to raise prices as early as January 1. Most do not feature for which drugs or by how much, but precise details were given in the case of Novartis and Bayer.
Novartis is preparing to raise prices on more than 100 indications of over 30 different drugs in January, the documents show, with increases ranging from 4.5 percent to 9.9 percent.
Drugs on the list are expected to account for more than $20 billion of Novartis' revenue this year and include multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, psoriatic arthritis treatment Cosentyx, and leukemia treatment Tasigna.
The list also includes Diovan, the brand name version of blood pressure treatment valsartan, generic versions of which are currently in deficit after a potential carcinogen was discovered in active ingredients made in China, prompting widespread recalls.
Just talked with Pfizer CEO and @SecAzar on our drug pricing blueprint. Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more. We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff said the company plans to raise U.S. list prices on 14 percent of the medicines it sells in the country in 2019, for an average increase of 4.7 percent on those drugs.
'Our rebates and discounts, however, continue to grow even faster,' Althoff said. As a result, the company expects a net price decrease of nearly 5 percent across the whole US portfolio, he said.
Over the last three years, net price decreases for its U.S. business have ranged from 2 percent to 2.6 percent, the company said.
Bayer filed notifications with California agencies to increase prices on six of its drugs in January, many of which are birth control products.
Most of these price hikes are 5 percent.
Bayer said that the US wholesale price of its products are not typical of what most consumers pay and that 'list price increases are expected to be offset by higher rebates and discounts paid to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.'
Amgen did not reply to requests for comment. AstraZeneca and Biogen declined to comment for this story.
GSK would not give details about its specific price increases, which are set to take effect on or around January 1 and could change before then.
Allergan said that all of its price increases would be aligned with its pledge made in 2016 to limit drug price increases on its products to less than 10 percent annually.
The United States, which leaves drug pricing to market competition, has soaring drug prices than in other countries where governments directly or indirectly manage the costs, making it the world's most lucrative market for manufacturers.
Lowering prescription drug prices was a top priority in Republican Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
In October we reported that Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) CEO Stephen Ubl said: “just including list prices is not sufficient and would be misleading for several reasons.”
According to Ubl, the price information could discourage patients from seeking needed medical attention since list prices rarely reflect what consumers pay through insurance.
PhRMA insists that, instead, in-ad links to websites should be provided that would feature a “drug’s list price, an expected range of possible patient out-of-pocket costs and financial support that is available to help consumers pay for their drugs.”