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New research published by the JAMA Network looked at the prices on the 49 top-selling brand-name medications in the United States. Forty-eight brand-name drugs saw a price increase at least once a year from Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2017. The cost of only one decreased over time. As a group, the top 49 saw a 76 percent median cost increase during the six-year period.
A team from Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., evaluated a database of medications prescribed to 35 million individuals with private insurance. They identified 49 drugs that exceeded $500 million in sales in the United States or $1 billion worldwide. The group includes insulins – Novolog, Humalog and Lanus – as well as Enbrel and Humira, used to treat autoimmune conditions.
Even more disturbing than the historical numbers is the analysts’ conclusion that costs for popular brand-name drugs will double every seven to eight years.
Researchers also concluded that competition among brand-name drug makers “appeared to do little to stymie rising costs.”
“Instead,” they noted, “products that may be prescribed interchangeably, such as Humira and Enbrel or Humalog, Humulin and Novolog, were highly synchronized in relative cost changes while demonstrating some of the largest cost increases in the industry over the past 6 years. Such seeming coordination coinciding with high price increases in particularly worrisome.”
While it’s clarifying to know the data, your stories are even more powerful. How much have your prescription medications increased in price over the past year? Share your experience with Voices for Affordable Health.