Drug prices are on the rise and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. According to research done by the Scripps Research Translational Institute, the cost of almost all commonly used brand-name drugs increased over the course of five years.
Prices of popular drugs for many major illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes, are on the rise. Researchers found that there is no end in sight for these increases. In fact, prices are expected to double within seven to eight years.
Drug Prices on the Upswing
To analyze drug prices, researchers at Scripps Research Translational Institute reviewed Blue Cross Blue Shield pharmacy claims of 49 popular brand-name drugs, which had six years’ worth of data from 2012 to 2017. Each of the drugs analyzed in the study had more than 100,000 claims.
The researchers found that all but one of these 49 drugs saw a yearly or biannual price increase in both insurer and out-of-pocket costs. The cost of 36 of the drugs increased by more than 50% over the six-year period, while the cost of another 16 of the drugs also more than doubled. The average increase of the drugs studied was a staggering 76%. The study also concluded that brand name drug prices still rose even when generic drugs were available.
Drugs Most Affected
Although nearly all of the drugs saw a price increase, some were hit harder than others. Insulins, such as Lantus, Novolog and Humalog, had some of the biggest increases. Enbrel and Humira, which are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, also saw some of the largest increases. For example, the cost of Humira was $1,940 in January of 2012. It increased to $4,338 by December of 2017.
Prices to Continue to Rise
The study found that the median annual price increase was 9.5%. This suggests that the cost of popular brand name drugs will double in price every seven to eight years.
Researchers do not see an end to the price increases any time soon.
The cost of medications for major illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes, will continue to increase. This is according to the big pharma recent trends, even as Congress investigates the reason for these significant price increases. In fact, according to NBC News, in 2018, Novartis raised the costs on more than 30 different medications for multiple sclerosis, psoriatic arthritis and Tasigna, which is used to treat leukemia, from 4.5 to 9.9%.
It doesn't appear that drug prices will reduce any time soon. Patients can try to help reduce costs by switching to generic versions of popular brand name drugs when possible or learning more about assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.
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