Staggering Rise In Wholesale Drug Prices

“The cost of a generic liquid version of Prozac rose from $9 to $69 in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 667%.” – L.A. Times

Oct 11, 2019

L.A. Times – Drugmakers fought hard against California’s groundbreaking drug price transparency law, passed in 2017.

Now, state health officials have released their first report on the price hikes those drug companies sought to shield.

Pharmaceutical companies raised the “wholesale acquisition cost” of their drugs — the list price for wholesalers without discounts or rebates — by a median of 25.8% from 2017 through the first quarter of 2019, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. (The median is the point at which half the prices are higher and half are lower.)

Generic drugs saw the largest median increase, 37.6%, during that time. By comparison, the annual inflation rate during the period was 2%.

Several drugs stood out for far higher price increases:

  • The cost of a generic liquid version of Prozac rose from $9 to $69 in just the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 667%.
  • Guanfacine, a generic medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, on the market since 2010, rose more than 200% in the first quarter of 2019, to $87 for 100 2-milligram pills.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which makes Guanfacine, cited “manufacturing costs” and “market conditions” as reasons for the price hike.

“Even at a time when there is a microscope on this industry, they’re going ahead with drug price increases for hundreds of drugs well above the rate of inflation,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of the California advocacy group Health Access.

The national debate over exorbitant prescription drug prices — and how to relieve them — was supposed to take center stage in recent weeks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a plan to negotiate prices for as many as 250 name-brand drugs, including high-priced insulin, for Medicare beneficiaries.

Another plan under consideration in the Senate would set a maximum out-of-pocket cost for prescription drugs for Medicare patients and penalize drug companies if prices rose faster than inflation.

President Trump has highlighted drug prices as an issue in his reelection campaign … Read more. 

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