June 29, 2020 News, Press Releases

NEW REPORT: Big Pharma Hikes Drug Prices in Midst of COVID-19 Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC –– According to a new analysis by Patients For Affordable Drugs, drug companies raised the list prices of 245 drugs by an average of 23.8 percent since the first case of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. was reported in January. The research found that 75 percent of those price hikes were drugs directly linked to COVID-19 treatment or conditions that place people at higher risk of the virus.

“It’s outrageous, but not surprising, that against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, drug corporations have continued to raise the prices of drugs critical to keeping Americans healthy and alive,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “Patients are hurting from this pandemic with widespread unemployment, insurance loss, and heightened risk for COVID-19. More than ever we all need to be able to afford our medications.”

The report, authored by Patients For Affordable Drugs’ Policy Analyst Brianna Jones and Legislative Director Sarah Kaminer Bourland, examines three categories of drugs that saw price hikes: 61 drugs used for treatment of COVID-19, 30 drugs in COVID-19 clinical trials, and 118 drugs used to manage chronic conditions.


  • As the need for medications to fight COVID-19 grew, pharmaceutical manufacturers increased the price of 20 key ICU medications. This includes Duramorph, an intravenous morphine used to sedate COVID-19 patients on ventilators. Hikma Pharmaceuticals, its maker, hiked the price by 59 percent in March. In addition, common medications like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Reglan — which are being used to treat routine COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, aches, and nausea — increased in price by up to 29 percent.


  • Researchers worldwide have been racing to find effective treatments and vaccines for the novel virus; meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have jacked up the prices of 30 drugs currently being used in COVID-19 clinical trials. Days before a study suggested that Olumiant, a drug by Eli Lilly, had potential in the treatment of COVID-19, the drug maker increased the price of a one month supply to $2,265.


  • As Americans face job and insurance loss, pharma has increased prices on 118 drugs for chronic conditions. Seventy-six of those hikes were for drugs to treat patients at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. One example is Provenge, a drug to treat prostate cancer, that shot up in price by $3,487.

Read the report here. Full data set available here.



Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.