Pfizer delays price hikes; others don’t
In the first 10 days of July, at least 10 drugmakers raised prices on at least 20 brand-name medicines.
The White House succeeded in persuading Pfizer Inc. to hold off on price increases it had planned for this month.
But the pharmaceutical giant wasn’t the only drug company seeking to charge more for its products in recent days.
In the first 10 days of July, at least 10 other drugmakers and biotechnology companies raised prices on at least 20 brand-name medicines, a review of pricing data from Rx Savings Solutions and Bloomberg Intelligence shows.
Celgene Corp. raised the price of blockbuster cancer drug Revlimid by 5 percent to $695.48 a capsule, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence and First Databank. Since November 2016, the drug’s price has been raised by over 25 percent through four separate increases.
The number of price increases in a short period suggests that White House requests are likely to have little impact on drug prices in the long term, said Michael Rea, chief executive officer of Rx Savings Solutions, which helps patients find low-cost drugs.
“I expect no lasting impact from Pfizer’s agreement,” said Rea. While the drugmaker received blowback because of its prominence, other companies “are happy to be flying under the radar.”
In June, Celgene CEO Mark Alles vowed to limit price increases to once a year, capping them at the projected annual percentage growth in U.S. medical spending, which this year was forecast to be 5.3 percent. The latest increases are in line with that pledge.
Still, “any price increase in the current environment appears bold,” especially after Pfizer’s showdown with Trump, Cowen & Co. analyst Phil Nadeau wrote Wednesday.
Roche Holding AG, which recently canceled a planned 4 percent increase for anticlotting drug Cathflo Activase, raised prices on some of its costly top-selling cancer drugs.
This month, it boosted the price of a single-use vial of breast-cancer drug Herceptin by 3 percent. Avastin, another cancer drug, went up 2.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence and First Databank. The changes follow increases for both drugs in January.
Insulin costs, a longstanding pain point for diabetes patients, have also risen this month. In early July, Novo Nordisk A/S raised the price of Levemir and Novolog by 5 percent, to $293.75 for a 10 milliliter vial of Levemir and $289.36 for a 10 milliliter vial of Novolog. Patients can use more than one vial a month. The Danish drugmaker also raised the price of its Victoza diabetes injection by 7.9 percent.
“Our decision to take a list price increase was not taken lightly,” said Ken Inchausti, a spokesman for Novo Nordisk.
By far the biggest price increase this month — of more than 700 percent — came from tiny Aytu BioScience Inc., for an obscure sleep drug called Zolpimist. The new price of a 30-dose canister of the oral spray is $329.50, up from around $40. The price of a 60-dose canister rose to $659, up from around $70, the company confirmed.
After President Donald Trump pressured pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. with a critical tweet, Pfizer agreed to reverse or postpone drug price hikes. But that hasn’t stopped other drugmakers.