Not waiting for the federalgovernment, a number of states have taken their own legislative andregulatory steps to moderate drug prices. (Photo:Shutterstock)

|

A new report finds that drug manufacturers have continued toraise drug prices, despite promises by theTrump Administration to reduce the costs of prescription drugs.

|

The Associated Press analysis found that there were 96price hikes for every price cut by pharmaceutical companies in thefirst seven months of this year. Although there were fewer drugprice hikes than in a comparable periods in prior years, therestill far more hikes than cuts. Changes in prices weresimilar—median price increases were slightly smaller, but so wereprice cuts, compared with other years.

|

Related: Few voters believe Trump will lower drugprices

|

Lowering drug prices was a core campaign promise of DonaldTrump, and as President, he has continued to call for reductions ondrug prices. In May, the Trump administration rolled out the“American Patients First” plan, designed toincrease competition among drug companies and lower prices andout-of-pocket costs for consumers.

|

However, the plan has resulted in few measurable results so far.Experts say the current system lacks transparency and consumerprotections. Some say without tighter regulation, the industry willpay only lip service to reducing the burden on consumers.

|

“The rate of increases has slowed down, but prices haven'tdecreased,” said Stephen Schondelmeyer, a University of Minnesotaprofessor of pharmaceutical economics who runs its research programon drug prices and public policy. He said drug companies showtemporary pricing restraint around elections and other times ofpublic pressure, but then go back to raising drug prices.

|

According to the study:

|

—There were fewer price increases this year from January throughJuly than in comparable prior-year periods, but companies stillhiked prices far more often than they cut them. This year throughthe end of July, there were 4,412 brand-name drug price increasesand 46 price cuts, a ratio of 96-to-1.

|

—In June and July, after Trump predicted industry price cuts forprescription drugs, there were 395 price increases and 24decreases. The two-dozen cuts were up from the 15 decreases inthose same two months last year, but increases still outpaceddecreases by a ratio of 16.5-to-1.

|

—The median price increase, meaning half were higher and halflower, was 5.2 percent in June and July of 2018, down from 8percent in that period in 2017.

|

—The median price cut this June and July was 11 percent, muchsmaller than in comparable periods in prior years.

|

Neither the drug companies nor politicians are doing enough toaddress the problem, public polling suggests. According to the AParticle, “ … 77 percent of Americans consider U.S. prescriptiondrug costs 'unreasonable' and fewer than a quarter approve of howTrump is addressing the problem, according to a mid-August nationalpoll of 1,002 adults from West Health Institute, a nonpartisanhealth care research group.”

|

Not waiting for the federal government, a number of states havetaken their own legislative and regulatory steps to moderate drugprices, according to the New York Times. That story reports that 24states have passed 37 bills in 2018 designed to address rising drugcosts. However, the pharmaceutical industry has tied up some ofthose efforts with legal challenges.

|

The Trump Administration, for its part, says it will take timeto reform the industry. Secretary Alex Azar, the administration'spoint person for efforts to lower drug prices (and a former drugindustry executive), said his agency continues to work for lowerprices.

|

“I'm not counting on their altruism or their cooperation,” Azarsaid of the pharmaceutical companies, on Sept. 13. “We're going to change the rules ofthe road to make enduring changes to the incentive systems builtinto the channel.”

|

What are employers doing to lower drugprices?

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.