Prices Up on Hundreds of Drugs in January
As reported by Reuters, an analysis by the health care research firm 3 Axis Advisors found a roster of drugmakers raised prices in the U.S. last month on more than 350 drugs. The manufacturers include major industry players like AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Pfizer, and Sanofi. Just one month into 2023, more increases are expected from other firms in the months ahead.
46brooklyn Research published a report that pharmaceutical companies raised prices on more than 1,400 drugs in 2022. The price increase median was 4.9% last year, while the average increase was 6.4%. Both percentages were below the inflation rate, which was 6.5% in December and 9.1% through mid-year, year over year.
Reuters noted that drugmakers have generally tried to keep increases below 10% annually following a barrage of criticism over drug price increases in the 2010s.
Among the January increases were 89 unique drug brands developed by Pfizer and 10 additional brands at its Hospira biosimilar manufacturing arm. GSK increased pricing on more than two dozen unique drugs, including its Shingrix shingles vaccine. Sanofi raised prices on 14 of its drugs and vaccines last month.
New Drug Exceeds $200,000 Median in 2022
The median annual price of drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during the second half of 2022 was $193,000 – down from $257,000 in the first half of the year. The median for the full year was $222,003 according to Reuters. That compares to a median annual price of $180,000 for 30 drugs first marketed through mid-July 2021, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Amazon Prime Rx Benefit
Amazon announced late last month a new subscription generic drug program for U.S. members of its Prime service.
The existing Amazon Rx benefit offers savings and discounts on prescriptions at more than 60,000 pharmacies including Amazon Pharmacy. It works in much the same way as the California Rx Card, which was launched by the Word & Brown Companies in 2007.
Members of both cards can get prescription medication discounts at major pharmacy chains, including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, as well as Kroger and its affiliated brands, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons, Walmart, and others.
Under the new RxPass program, Amazon Prime members can sign up for a $5 per month subscription to have all of their eligible generic medication delivered to their door at no additional charge. Medications related to more than 80 common health conditions are available, including those for high blood pressure, anxiety, hair loss, depression, smoking cessation, and acid reflux.
With RxPass, there’s no insurance coverage involved. There’s just one $5 monthly flat fee, which is added to the Prime member’s regular membership. Individuals enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), or any other government health care program will not be able to enroll in RxPass. However, they can use their insurance to fill prescriptions through Amazon Pharmacy.
According to Amazon, nearly half of American adults take two more medications each day, and one-quarter of adults say it’s difficult to afford the medications they need.
Stay Tuned in 2023
Our blog and Word & Brown Newsroom will continue to report on drug pricing and other insurance industry-related news throughout 2023. We encourage you to stay informed by regularly visiting our Newsroom, signing up for our J&R Report e-newsletter, and reading our monthly blog posts.