Price hikes on prescription drugs are surging in 2019, despite vows from lawmakers and the Trump administration to rein in pharmaceutical costs.
So far in 2019, more than 3,400 drugs have boosted their prices, a 17% increase compared with the roughly 2,900 drug price increases at the same time in 2018, according to a new analysis by Rx Savings Solutions, a consultant to health plans and employers.
The average price hike for those 3,400 drugs stands at 10.5%, or about 5 times the rate of inflation, the study found. About 41 drugs have boosted their prices by more than 100%, including one version of the antidepressant fluoxetine — also known as Prozac — whose cost has surged 879%, Rx Savings Solutions said.
The price increases come at a time when lawmakers and consumers are increasingly concerned about the escalating cost of medications, which are far outpacing wage growth and the cost of living. Four of 5 Americans believe the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable, according to a study earlier this year from the Kaiser Family Foundation. About one-third of patients say they’re skipping prescription medicine because of the cost, the survey found.
“In the political climate we live in and the conversations we’re having, that there are more drug price increases this year — you would think that wouldn’t be the case,” said Michael Rea, founder and CEO of Rx Savings Solutions. “It defines the difficulty that consumers have.”
Triple-digit price increases seen
To be sure, the hikes on more than 3,400 drugs represent a small share of the overall pharmaceutical market. But for patients who rely on one of those medicines, the costs can add to rapidly rising health care expenditures and create dilemmas about how to pay for their care.