Drugmakers Kick Off 2020 With Margin-Expanding Price Hikes

Drug manufacturers across the globe raised the list prices of more than 250 therapies on New Year’s Day, according to aggregate reports from Reuters and research firm 3 Axis Advisors.

Benzinga · 01/02/2020 15:41

Drug manufacturers across the globe raised the list prices of more than 250 therapies on New Year’s Day, according to aggregate reports from Reuters and research firm 3 Axis Advisors.

Biogen, Bristol-Myers, Gilead Drug Prices Increase 

Biogen Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB) raised Tecfidera by 6%. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY) raised Opdivo and Yervoy 1.5% and Eliquis and Revlimid 6%. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) boosted the prices of more than 15 treatments, including Biktarvy and Truvada, by less than 5%. GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY) also increased prices across their expansive portfolios.

In keeping with political promises meant to preempt new regulations and penalties, almost all of the price hikes remained under 10%. The median was about 5%.

Americans Face High Prescription Prices 

Still, the increases more than offset any losses from inflation, which has risen at an annual rate of around 2%. The drugmakers are expanding their margins.

Patients are paying the price in more ways than one. According to Consumer Reports, 23% of Americans decided not to fill a prescription because of high pricing in 2019.

The deadly Catch-22 has captured lawmaker attention.

Most of the 2020 presidential candidates of both major U.S. parties have pledged to depress domestic drug pricing. The Trump administration is attempting to fulfill a similar pledge made in 2016. In late December, it proposed easing the import of Canada’s less-costly alternatives.

"The FDA continues to assess and act on multiple opportunities to promote competition that can, in turn, help reduce drug prices and improve access to medicines for Americans," Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said in a statement.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide a robust program that clearly lays out procedures to import drugs that could provide lower prices while also maintaining the high quality Americans expect."

More Price Hikes On Horizon

Reuters suggested that additional price hikes could continue into the new year.

Some manufacturers have promised not to exceed a set percentage increase. Bristol-Myers committed to keeping its price inflation at 6% in 2020.

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