Drugmakers — including Pfizer Inc, Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) — plan to raise prices on more than 300 drugs in the US from yesterday, according to drugmakers and data analyzed by healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors.
The increases come as drugmakers are reeling from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced doctor visits and demand for some drugs. They are also fighting new drug price cutting rules from US President Donald Trump’s administration, which would reduce the industry’s profitability.
The companies kept their price increases at 10 percent or below, and the largest drug companies to raise prices so far, Pfizer and Sanofi, kept nearly all of their increases at 5 percent or less, said 3 Axis, a consulting firm that works with pharmacists groups, health plans and foundations on drug pricing and supply chain issues.
GSK did raise prices on two vaccines — shingles vaccine Shingrix, and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine Pediarix — by 7 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, 3 Axis said.
Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc hiked prices on 15 drugs, including Austedo, which treats rare neurological disorders, and asthma steroid Qvar, which together grossed more than US$650 million in sales in 2019 and saw price hikes of 5 to 6 percent.
Teva hiked prices for some drugs — including muscle relaxant Amrix and narcolepsy treatment Nuvigil — by as much as 9.4 percent.
More price hikes were expected to be announced yesterday, as well as early this month.
Last year, drugmakers raised prices on more than 860 drugs by an average of about 5 percent, 3 Axis said.
Drug price increases have slowed substantially since 2015, in terms of amount and the number of drugs affected.
The increases come as pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer are playing hero by developing vaccines for COVID-19 in record time.
The hikes could help make up for lost revenue, as doctors’ visits and new prescriptions plummeted during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Pfizer plans to raise prices on more than 60 drugs by 0.5 to 5 percent, including increases of about 5 percent on some top sellers, such as rheumatoid arthritis treatment Xeljanz, and cancer drugs Ibrance and Inlyta.
Pfizer said that it adjusted the list prices of its drugs by about 1.3 percent across all products in its portfolio, in line with inflation.
“This modest increase is necessary to support investments that allow us to continue to discover new medicines and deliver those breakthroughs to the patients who need them,” spokeswoman Amy Rose said in a statement, pointing in particular to the COVID-19 vaccine that the company developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE.
Pfizer’s net prices have actually fallen for the past three years, it said.
France’s Sanofi plans to increase prices on a number of vaccines by 5 percent or less, and would announce more price increases later this month, spokeswoman Ashleigh Koss said.
None of the company’s price increases would be above 5.1 percent, the expected growth rate of US health spending, she said.
Slashing US prescription drug prices — which are among the highest in the world — was a focus of Trump, after making it a core pledge of his 2016 campaign.
Late last year, Trump issued several executive orders meant to cut prices, but their effect could be limited by legal challenges and other problems.
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