Prices for the most popular brand-name drugs have increased at nearly 10 times the cost of inflation over the last five years, a new report says.
Nearly one third of the 20 most-prescribed drugs for American seniors saw a more than 100 percent increase in price between 2012 and 2017, according to a congressional report released Monday.
The largest increase was seen with chest pain medication Nitrostat, which increased 477 percent from approximately 20 cents per pill to $1.14 per pill.
Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for a policy that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices which they say would save the government billions of dollars.
While Republicans largely oppose this kind of policy, President Trump has indicated that one of his administration’s main goals this year is bringing drug prices down.
A congressional report examined prices for the most-commonly prescribed drugs under Medicare from 2012 to 2017 and found an average annual increase of 12 percent
‘Soaring pharmaceutical drug prices remain a critical concern for patients and policymakers alike,’ the report said.
‘Over the last decade, these significant price increases have emerged as a dominant driver of US health care costs – a trend experts anticipate will continue at a rapid pace.’
The report examined the costs of the 20 most-prescribed drugs under Medicare Part D between 2012 and 2017 and found the drugs increased 12 percent on average each year.
While there were 48 million fewer prescriptions written for those top 20 drugs during the five-year period, revenue from the prescriptions increased by more than $8.5 billion.
Six of the 20 drugs in the report had price increases of over 100 percent over the five-year period and prices for 12 of the 20 drugs increased more than 50 percent.
The drug with the highest increase of 477 percent was Nitrostat, which is used for chest pain.
At the bottom of the list was shingle drug Zostovax, which increase by 31 percent over the period of five years.
The report called ‘Manufactured Crisis: How devastating drug price increases are harming America’s seniors’ was led by Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who has been looking into rising drug prices for several years.
‘Can you imagine if you went to an auto dealership and last year’s exact model was being sold at a 20 percent mark-up, and then you went back the next year and it had happened again?’ McCaskill said.
‘That’s exactly what’s happening in the prescription drug industry, where the cost of identical drugs skyrockets year after year.’
A group representing the top pharmaceutical companies, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, was quick to criticize the report.
‘This is yet another misleading report that ignores the robust negotiation that occurs between Medicare Part D plans, middlemen and biopharmaceutical companies,’ PhRMA spokeswoman Juliet Johnson told CNN in a statement.
‘Negotiated rebates can reduce list prices by as much as 30 to 70 percent for medicines used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, and chronic respiratory illnesses. Notably, half of the 20 brand medicines in this report are used to treat these chronic conditions.
‘We agree more can be done to make Part D more affordable and predictable for seniors. One way to do that is to ensure seniors benefit from the significant negotiated savings when they pick up their medicine at the pharmacy.’
By law, Medicare is not able to directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which Democrats have been trying to change for several years.
Republicans have historically opposed this change, but President Trump hinted in January that he may break from his party on the issue, saying that a policy that allowed for negotiation could save the government billions.
At his State of the Union address he said that one of his goals for the upcoming year is to bring down high drug prices.