Looking to Save on Prescriptions in 2019? That’s Not Likely to Happen

By Published on January 2, 2019

 The new year is here, and for many drug companies, that also means new price increases on products.

Nearly 40 drug manufacturers raised prices on hundreds of drugs Tuesday, reported The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, high prescription drug prices are a top issue among Americans, and 52 percent of people said that “passing legislation to bring down the price of prescription drugs should be a ‘top priority’ for President Trump and Congress” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in March.

The average price increase for the products made by those roughly 40 manufacturers was 6.3 percent, according to an analysis by Rx Saving Solutions cited by WSJ. The price hikes are also outpacing inflation, but many pharmaceutical companies say consumers will not feel the effects of the increases because of rebates and government program discounts.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is slated to hike prices on 41 of its products, reported Reuters. Pfizer is known for making drugs including pain-fighting Advil and atrial fibrillation treatment Eliquis. 

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Pfizer was in the news in July when it agreed to postpone its prescription drug price hikes after President Donald Trump told the company it should be “ashamed” of its price increases in a July 9 tweet.

Drug companies besides Pfizer raising prices in the new year include:

  • Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which raised prices on anesthetic ketamine by 20 percent and blood-pressure medication enalaprilat by 30 percent.
  • GlaxoSmithKline, a United Kingdom pharma giant, instituted prices raises on 36 drugs, but none of the hikes exceeded 3 percent according to WSJ.
  • Allergan, which makes Alzheimer’s treatment Namenda and dry-eye treatment Restasis, had “the most increases of more than 9 percent,” according to WSJ.

Twenty-seven of Allergan’s price hikes were approximately 9.5 percent, while 24 were approximately 4.9 percent, according to WSJ. Allergan has had a policy of a single yearly price hike of less than 10 percent for each product.

The high cost of prescription drugs was an issue that politicians brought up frequently in 2018.

Trump signed a law that ends insurance companies’ pharmacist gag clauses in an effort to lower drug prices in October. Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers use the gag clauses to “forbid pharmacists from proactively telling consumers if their prescription would cost less if they paid for it out-of-pocket rather than using their insurance plan,” according to a press release from Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the bill’s sponsor.

Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline recently announced a joint consumer health care venture Dec. 19.


Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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