Drugmakers Hike Prices on 775 Drugs So Far This Month — Report

So far this month, drugmaker price hikes have hit hundreds of brand-name drugs that treat conditions including diabetes, asthma and heart disease, a new report shows.

Two drug capsules atop a black credit card.
(Image credit: Peter Dazeley, Getty Images)

Drugmakers have boosted list prices this month on 775 brand-name medicines including diabetes drug Ozempic and asthma drug Xolair, according to a January 18 Wall Street Journal report.

The cost of Ozempic rose by 3.5% to nearly $970 a month, according to the report, which used data by nonprofit analytics firm 46brooklyn Research. The data also showed that more than 24 list prices fell by more than 10% this year. The analytics firm looked at prescription drug price information through January 15, the WSJ said in the report.

The median amount of all the increases was 4.5% with some prices rising as high as 10%, the report found. More price hikes could follow in the coming weeks as drugmakers typically boost list prices as a new year begins, it added. Drugmakers typically attribute the increases to market trends, inflation and the value the drugs provide, according to the report.

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The news follows a December 2023 Reuters report showing that drugmakers were planning to raise prices on more than 500 drugs in January. 

Using data from healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors, the Reuters report noted that prices would rise for 140 brands of drugs. When factoring in different doses and formulations, this number jumps to more than 500. 

In addition, the report noted that GlaxoSmithKline was likely to lower prices on at least 15 drugs.

Pushing back on drug costs

In December, the Biden Administration announced that dozens of drugmakers raised prices faster than inflation, triggering Medicare rebates. As a result, Medicare coinsurance for certain Part B drugs is expected to drop for some beneficiaries starting this month.

Drug companies are required to pay the rebates under the administration’s Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022.

Separately, the administration plans to publish discounted rates for 10 drugs in September as part of its price negotiation program with certain drugmakers. The discounted rates are scheduled to take effect in 2026.

Drugmakers have fought back against the price negotiation talks, however, saying that lower revenues would discourage investments in new technology and medicines to help find cures and treatments, according to a July 23 New York Times report.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), those first 10 drugs make up nearly 20% of spending in the Medicare Part D drug benefit program.

“Negotiating prices on these drugs has the potential for significant savings to enrollees, taxpayers and the Medicare program. As additional drugs are selected for negotiation in future years, the benefits of negotiation will continue to grow,” Rebecca Haffajee, principal deputy assistant secretary under the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation section, said in a statement about a new report on the program.

Ways to save on prescriptions

The drug pricing talks come amid reports showing that many Americans have had to forgo filling at least one prescription. There are, however, steps that you might be able to take to save on prescription medications. These include seeing if you are eligible to enroll in Patient Assistance Programs and more.

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Senior News Editor

Esther D’Amico is Kiplinger’s senior news editor. A long-time antitrust and congressional affairs journalist, Esther has covered a range of beats including infrastructure, climate change and the industrial chemicals sector. She previously served as chief correspondent for a financial news service where she chronicled debates in and out of Congress, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department with a particular focus on large mergers and acquisitions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and in English.

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