|WASHINGTON, D.C. — The pharmaceutical industry raised prices again in July, bringing the total number of price hikes for the first seven months of this year to 1,186, exceeding the number from the same periods of time in 2020 and 2021. That’s according to a new report from Patients For Affordable Drugs released today. The report demonstrates why urgent congressional action is needed to address Big Pharma’s abusive pricing practices and outlines ten reasons why Congress must pass legislation to lower drug prices now. The drug pricing reforms in the reconciliation package would constrain rising drug prices for Americans by limiting annual price increases to the rate of inflation and permitting, for the very first time, Medicare to negotiate for some of the costliest drugs.
“Americans are struggling with record inflation and the continued challenges of a pandemic. Yet Big Pharma continues to raise drug prices with no regard for the health and financial well-being of Americans,” 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 industry’s latest price hikes demonstrate again why the Senate must stand up for the American people and pass the comprehensive drug pricing reforms in the reconciliation package. These reforms are overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike, and the votes are there to pass the package immediately. We must put an end to drug corporations’ unfettered ability to dictate prices at the expense of patients.”
Hundreds of pharmaceutical corporations increased drug prices 1,186 times this year, with a median price increase of five percent. Pfizer, which brought in record revenues last year thanks to its COVID-19 vaccine, led the pack with July price hikes on 23 medications. Nearly 90 percent of all price hikes in 2022 were on brand-name drugs, which carry the highest prices on the market, and 133 unique drugs were raised in price in the first week of July alone.
The report highlights four critical drugs that had price increases this July including Enbrel, a drug used to treat autoimmune diseases. Drug manufacturer Amgen hiked the price of Enbrel twice this year, amounting to a 9.4 percent total increase, outpacing even this year’s record inflation.
Kip Burgess, a psoriatic arthritis patient who lives in Chicago, takes Enbrel to treat his condition. He explains, “When I take Enbrel, I don’t have any symptoms and can live my life fully.” The report finds that this year’s price increases have added nearly $600 to the monthly price for Enbrel patients. “No one should have to worry about how they will afford the medications they need to live,” Kip says.
GSK has hiked the price of its drug Benlysta, which treats lupus, four times since the beginning of the pandemic. The monthly price is now $4,282 thanks to price hikes this year totaling 7.4 percent, and adding more than $3,500 to the yearly price tag.
“Without this drug, my immune system attacks my healthy tissue, resulting in painful inflammation that damages my skin, joints, blood vessels, and brain,” shares Ashley Suder, a patient in Morgantown, WV, who takes Benlysta to manage her lupus. “I’ve had to spend my entire paycheck on my medications, and with the price increasing again, I worry about how I’ll make ends meet while still affording my drugs.”
Senate Democrats submitted the latest text of their comprehensive drug pricing reforms to the Senate Parliamentarian — the next step in its path to passage through reconciliation. Last week, President Biden called on Congress to pass a reconciliation package with the drug price reforms. The legislation will, for the first time, authorize Medicare to negotiate prices directly for some of the most expensive prescription medicines; institute a hard cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries; 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.