More drugmakers hike US prices as New Year begins

The prices of more than 250 drugs increased this New Years’ Day, says research firm 3 Axis Advisors.

Soaring United States prescription drug prices are expected to again be a central issue in the presidential election [File: George Frey/Reuters]

Drugmakers including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, Gilead Sciences Inc, and Biogen Inc hiked United States list prices on more than 50 drugs on Wednesday, but they are not the only companies demanding that consumers pay more. The prices of more than 250 drugs increased in price this New Years’ Day, according to data analysed by healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that drugmakers including Pfizer Inc, GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Sanofi SA were planning to increase prices on more than 200 drugs in the US on January 1, 2020.

Nearly all of the price increases are below 10 percent, and the median price increase is around five percent, according to 3 Axis.

More early-year price increases could still be announced.

Soaring US prescription drug prices are expected to again be a central issue in the presidential election. US President Donald Trump, who made bringing them down a core pledge of his 2016 campaign, is running for re-election in 2020.

Many branded drugmakers have pledged to keep their US list price increases below 10 percent a year, under pressure from politicians and patients.

The US, which leaves drug pricing to market competition, has higher prices than other countries where governments directly or indirectly control the costs, making it the world’s most lucrative market for manufacturers.

Drugmakers often negotiate rebates on their list prices in exchange for favourable treatment from healthcare payers. As a result, health insurers and patients rarely pay the full list price of a drug.

Bristol-Myers Squibb said in a statement that it will not raise list prices on its drugs by more than six percent this year.

The drugmaker raised the price on 10 drugs on Wednesday, including 1.5-percent price hikes on cancer immunotherapies Opdivo and Yervoy and a six percent increase on blood thinner Eliquis, all of which bring in billions of dollars in revenue annually.

It also raised the price on Celgene’s flagship multiple myeloma drug, Revlimid, by six percent. Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired rival Celgene in a $74bn deal last year.

Gilead raised prices on more than 15 drugs including HIV treatments Biktarvy and Truvada by less than five percent, according to 3 Axis.

Biogen price increases included a six-percent price hike on multiple sclerosis treatment Tecfidera, according to 3 Axis.

Gilead and Biogen could not be immediately reached for comment.

The consultancy 3 Axis advises pharmacy-industry groups on identifying inefficiencies in the US drug supply chain, and has provided consulting work to hedge fund billionaire John Arnold, a prominent critic of high drug prices.

Source: Reuters