Dozens of drugmakers hiked drug prices today – defying Trump’s pledge to lower costs of prescription meds

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
By Paul Martin

Drug prices are rising an average of 6.3% this year, analysts say
Many firms agreed to delay price hikes in July after Trump implored them
But now experts say prices are set to rise sharper than ever in 2019

2 January 2019

Nearly 30 drugmakers that have taken steps to raise the US prices of their medicines in January, ending a self-declared halt to increases made by a pharma industry under pressure from the Trump administration, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The hikes will pose a new challenge to President Donald Trump’s pledge to lower the costs of prescription medications in the world’s most expensive pharmaceutical market.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a slew of policies aimed at lowering prices and passing more of the discounts negotiated by health insurers on to patients.

Those measures are not expected to provide relief to consumers in the short-term, however, and fall short of giving government health agencies direct authority to negotiate or regulate drug prices.

Twenty-eight drugmakers filed notifications with California agencies in early November disclosing that they planned to raise prices in 60 days or longer. Under a state law passed last year, companies are required to notify payers in California if they intend to raise the US list price on any drug by more than 16 percent over a two-year period.

The details were provided to Reuters in response to a public records request to California Correctional Health Care Services, which provides healthcare services to the state’s corrections department. The department spends more than $3 billion annually on drugs for inmates, more than any other state.

‘Requests and public shaming haven’t worked’ to lower drug prices, said Michael Rea, chief executive of RX Savings Solutions, which helps health plans and employers seek lower cost prescription medicines. ‘We expect the number of 2019 increases to be even greater than in past years.’

Pfizer Inc rolled back planned price increases in July after President Trump said in a tweet that the drugmaker ‘should be ashamed’ and that his administration would respond to the hikes.

Pfizer said it would defer hikes until January 2019 to support the administration as it pursued its new pricing policies. Pfizer’s move prompted many of its industry peers, including Bayer, Novartis, Allergan, AstraZeneca and Amgen, to follow suit.

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