Study Predicts Costs for Brand-Name Drugs Will Continue to Rise

Jennifer Barrett, Associate Editor
Published Online: Friday, June 7th, 2019
Brand-name prescription drug costs are likely to continue to rise, with the biggest increases seen in insulins and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open.
Over a 6-year period, the analysis mapped out drugs cost patterns for the 49 top-selling brand-name medications in the United States based on pharmacy claims data from a health insurance database. Top selling medications were identified as drugs that exceeded $500 million in US sales or $1 billion in worldwide sales.
From January 2012 through December 2017, the researchers found a median 76% increase in costs, or a 9.6% annual compounded increase. Of the 36 drugs that have been available since 2012, 78% have seen an increase in insurer and out-of-pocket costs by more than 50% and 44%, respectively, according to the study. In total, 35% of the drugs more than doubled in costs. The authors noted that insulin products and TNF inhibitors specifically demonstrated highly correlated price increases and made up some of the largest price hikes in the industry. 
In many cases, cost increases for most of the drugs were observed 1 to 2 times per year, according to the study. Only 1 drug, hepatitis C medication ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni), decreased in cost over time; however, the decrease was no more than 1% annually.
According to the study, the researchers estimated that costs for popular brand-name drugs would double every 7 to 8 years.

A version of this article was originally published by Specialty Pharmacy Times. Visit to view the full article.

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