Perspective from Abimbola Farinde, PhD
May 24, 2017
3 min read

Prescription drug prices rose nearly 10% in 2016

Perspective from Abimbola Farinde, PhD
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The cost of prescription drugs increased by 8.77% last year, the fourth consecutive year drug prices have gone up, according to data from the Truveris National Drug Index. The company further stated the 2016 increase represents an average annual price increase of 9.98% over the last year 3 years.

This report underscores several highly publicized efforts to address drug costs. In March, President Donald J. Trump said one of his principles in replacing the Affordable Care Act was to limit unnecessary procedures that cause health insurance and prescription drug costs to rise.

Last month, AAFP teamed up with the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, in an attempt to “strike a balance between innovation and affordability in the pharmaceutical industry,” the AAFP stated.

According to Truveris, the National Drug Index is a weighted price index that measures the average price of prescription drugs in the United States, and is driven by the most commonly prescribed medications.

Other data compiled by the company show from January to December 2016:

•price of branded drugs increased by 45.48 points or 12.92%;

•price of specialty drugs increased 12.03 points or 7.93%; and

•price of generic drugs increased 0.5 points or 0.32%.

In comparison, Truveris indicated that the Consumer Price Index, which measures the average change in prices of purchased goods by households, reported a 2.1% increase for 2016. According to the company, this means drug prices inflated 318% more than the price of all other goods in the United States.

“This continued trend reflects a growing concern about the affordability of prescriptions,” AJ Loiacono, co-founder and chief innovation officer, Truveris, said in a press release. “The actual inflation of drug prices is softened by insurance carriers and benefit managers who report overall trends. The underlying price inflation is masked by rebates, reduced compound dispensing, and lower utilization of hepatitis C drugs.”

According to the release, the new year has not resulted in lower drug prices: for the first quarter of 2017, drug prices continued to outpace general inflation, increasing 2.33%.

Truveris’ concerns are not the first over rising drug prices.

Last year, Mylan’s CEO testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding the 500% price increase for EpiPen Auto-Injector devices since 2007.

In addition, a report in JAMA Dermatology suggested prescription dermatologic drug prices rose dramatically between 2009 and 2015, with antineoplastic drugs having the greatest increase.

An investigation that appeared in the Journal of Internal Medicine last year indicated that the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States is the result of drug manufacturers being granted government-protected monopolies. - by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Loiacano is co-founder and chief innovation officer for Truveris.