Drugmakers modestly hike U.S. drug prices

Drugmakers, including Gilead Sciences Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, and Biogen Inc have hiked their U.S. list prices on more than 50 drugs, according to data analyzed by 3 Axis Advisors, a healthcare research firm.

On Tuesday, there were media reports of drugmakers, including Sanofi SA, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, and Pfizer Inc, planning on increasing drug prices of more than 200 drugs in the United States from January 1.

According to 3 Axis, the price increase is below 10% and the median price increase is around 5%.

U.S. prescription drug prices are once again likely to hog the limelight in the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election. U.S. President Donald Trump, who made bringing down drug prices a core pledge during his 2016 campaign, is running for re-election in 2020.

Under pressure from politicians and consumers, many drugmakers have pledged to keep their U.S. price hike below 10% a year.

Incidentally, drug prices in the United States, where their pricing is left to market forces, is higher in comparison to other countries where governments directly or indirectly control the price of drugs. Higher drug prices have made the U.S. the world’s most lucrative market for drugmakers.

Further, drugmakers often negotiate rebates on their list prices in exchange for favorable treatment from healthcare payers, as a result, health insurers and patients rarely pay the full list price.

In a statement, Bristol-Myers said, it will not raise its list prices for drugs by more than 6% in 2020.

On Wednesday, Bristol-Myers had raised the price on 10 drugs. This includes a 1.5% price hike on cancer immunotherapies Opdivo and Yervoy as well as a 6% hike on its blood thinner Eliquis; both of these rake in billions of dollars in revenue annually.

Bristol-Myers has also raised the price on Celgene’s flagship multiple myeloma drug, Revlimid, by 6%.

Bristol had acquired Celgene in a $74 billion deal in 2019.

According to 3 Axis data, Gilead has hiked prices of more than 15 drugs, including HIV treatments Biktarvy and Truvada, by less than 5%.

Neother Gilead nor Biogen immediately responded to requests for comments.

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