Drug prices were big news in 2015, thanks in large part to “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who drew outrage for hiking the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent. Such eye-popping increases were rare. But plenty of drugs became more expensive during the past year.
How much did prescription drug prices rise overall in 2015?
More than 10 percent — well in excess of the U.S. inflation rate — according to an analysis released Monday by Truveris, a health-care data company that tracks drug prices. The firm analyzes data involving hundreds of millions of payments that public and private insurers, businesses and patients make each year to U.S. pharmacies. The result is an index that measures the average price of prescription drugs, driven by the most commonly prescribed medications.
“We’re in our third year of double-digit [increases],” said A.J. Loiacono, the firm’s chief innovation officer, adding that the increases occurred across virtually every drug category. “Double-digit inflation is concerning. I don’t care if it’s for gas or food; it’s rare.”
Truveris found that over the past year, the price of branded drugs — those still on patent — rose 14.77 percent. Specialty drugs, which often are used to treat complex or rare conditions and tend to carry high price tags, rose 9.21 percent. Even generic drugs, which historically have tended to get cheaper over time, rose 2.93 percent.
Nearly every class of drugs experienced an uptick in prices, Loiacono said, but some conditions saw bigger bumps than others. Drugs that treat the symptoms of menopause, for example, rose nearly 34 percent last year. Those that treat gout: 33 percent. Medications for erectile dysfunction: 20 percent.
Despite the growing public spotlight on the cost of prescription drugs, Monday’s analysis showed that price increases during 2015 were roughly similar to those the year before. In 2014, according to Truveris, Americans saw a 10.9 percent increase in the cost of prescription medications, also across nearly every drug class.
(Click here to read the full article, written by Brady Dennis, Washington Post)