According to Patients for Affordable Medicines (an advocacy group working to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs), the US pharmaceutical industry raised drug prices by approximately 1,186 times in 2017. Their analysis was published Wednesday by the group.
The group discovered that despite record profits, drug companies increased the price of 133 products from June 24 to July 5. According to Patients For Affordable Drugs (Patients for Affordable Drugs), 64 drug companies increased their prices between June 24 and July 5.
Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies have increased their prices for their Covid-19 vaccine despite their incredible profits. Pfizer’s leukemia medicine, Besponsa, for example, has seen four price hikes since the pandemic began and now retails at $21,056 for a single vial.
Amgen has increased its Enbrel price so frequently since 2002, when it acquired the rights. This was in addition to the US’s record-breaking inflation rate. Between that acquisition and 2020, the company increased the drug’s price 27 times until it cost $5,554.96 per month – an increase of 457% over its initial cost. Two more price hikes took place this year, despite a 2020 investigation into Amgen’s pricing habits by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in which the drug company’s practices were roundly condemned.
Noting that Americans are still struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Covid-19 depression, Patients for Affordable Drugs founder David Mitchell said the industry was continuing “To raise drug prices without regard to the financial and health well-being Americans.” He pointed out that there was widespread support for capping the cost of prescription drugs across the political spectrum and questioned why nothing had been done.
While Senate Democrats advanced a bill earlier this month that would require Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies, critics have pointed out that the legislation only applied to those enrolled in the government’s Medicare program. Given that just 18.4% of Americans were on Medicare as of 2020, that leaves the lion’s share of drug consumers without any means of decreasing their own prescription costs.
This bill does not allow companies to bargain prices for new drugs until they have been in existence for seven years. An article last month published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that nearly half of brand-name prescription drug launches come with an annual price tag of at least $150,000. The paper’s writers also noted that newly-launched prescription drugs cost 20% more year over year from 2008 until 2021.
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Even though the US is the most expensive country in terms of healthcare, it has worse outcomes than other countries. Despite having a lower life expectancy than their industrialized counterparts, Americans have fewer doctors than other countries.
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