February 3, 2022 Press Releases

JANUARY PRICE HIKES 2.0: Big Pharma Pushes Blockbuster Prices To New Heights

Patients For Affordable Drugs’ Price Hikes Update Underscores Urgent Need For Drug Pricing Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Big Pharma continued to raise prices through January, Patients For Affordable Drugs released a new report today examining the most consequential price hikes taken by the drug industry on blockbuster products during the second half of the month. Since P4AD’s initial report in mid-January, drug companies have increased the price of 188 more drugs, bringing the total to 742 hikes so far this year. Both reports demonstrate why congressional action is urgently needed to address Big Pharma’s abusive pricing practices and why Congress must pass a reconciliation bill with the drug pricing reforms already agreed to in the Build Back Better Act. “Right now, Big Pharma has unlimited pricing power on brand-name drugs. Consistently, the industry proves it only cares about maximizing profit — not public health — and will continue to raise prices as high as it thinks possible without regard to the millions of Americans who are hurt by high drug prices,” said David Mitchell, a patient with incurable blood cancer whose drugs carry a list price of more than $900,000 per year and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “The drug reforms agreed upon in the Build Back Better Act would be historic for patients — the provisions would constrain rising drug prices by limiting annual price increases to the rate of inflation as well as permitting Medicare to negotiate for some of the costliest drugs in the program. The votes are there and Congress must pass the legislation now.”The new report shows that the most consequential hikes are concentrated among blockbuster drugs — 11 of the 15 top-selling products in the United States — that treat diseases with significant public health impact like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune conditions. Of the 742 drugs that the industry raised prices on, 92 percent were on brand-name drugs, 1 in 4 exceeded the most recent rate of inflation available in early January, and 93 percent exceeded the projected inflation rate for 2023, 2.3 percent. The report takes a close look at eight of these drugs: Xarelto, Imbruvica, Xtandi, Stelara, Januvia, Humira, Skyrizi, and Rinvoq. For example, Stelara, which treats autoimmune diseases, is Janssen’s best-selling drug and the seventh best-selling drug in the world, raking in $7.9 billion in sales in 2020. In January, the price was increased by $653 for a single syringe. This 5.4 percent increase brings the price of one syringe to $12,748.“The stress of the price of the Stelara I take to manage my Crohn’s disease has impacted my life in ways that I could never imagine,” Jacquie Persson, a patient advocate who lives in Waterloo, Iowa, explains. “Having a chronic illness is stressful enough. No one, insured or not, should have to worry about whether they can afford the medications they need.”Stelara’s price has increased 18 times since 2010 and nearly tripled in price. These hikes are unique to the United States, where we pay 3.5 to 6.75 times more for Stelara than other countries. Sixty-eight percent of Janssen’s worldwide revenue for Stelara came from the United States in 2020. In 2019, Medicare Part D spent more than $1 billion on the drug.The drug price provisions currently under consideration by the Senate will, for the first time, authorize Medicare to negotiate prices directly for some of the most expensive prescription medicines, including insulin; institute a hard cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and limit copays for insulin to $35 each month; and limit annual price increases to stop price gouging by drug corporations. The full report can be found here. The data set and breakdown of the report’s methodology can be found 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.