Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

Man reading a prescription drug label
Photo by pikselstock / Shutterstock.com

Drug price hikes tend to happen at the start of every year, and 2021 is no exception, according to GoodRx.

The website — which gathers prescription drug prices from pharmacies nationwide — tracks these annual hikes.

The GoodRx research team has been tracking 2021 price increases for more than 4,500 brand-name and generic drugs through January and has found that 722 drugs have increased in price by an average of 4.5% so far this month.

As of Jan. 13, they include:

  • 715 brand-name drugs, which increased in price by an average of 4.5%
  • Seven generic drugs, which increased in price by an average of 2.7%

The January total to date of 722 drugs with higher prices already exceeds that of January 2020, when 639 drugs increased in price (by 6%, on average), and January 2019, when 486 drugs increased in price (by 5.2%, on average).

The analysis shows that the biggest drug price hike of 2021 so far is 14.58% for Venofer, an injected medication used to treat iron-deficiency anemia in people who have chronic kidney disease.

The biggest drug price hikes of 2021 — so far

GoodRx says the biggest price increases as of Jan. 13 are for the following 31 medications, all of which are brand names:

  • Venofer: 14.58%
  • Zontivity: 10%
  • Cosmegen: 10%
  • Desoxyn: 10%
  • Neoprofen: 10%
  • Tranxene: 10%
  • Adzenys Xr-Odt: 10%
  • Nocdurna: 9.99%
  • Dyrenium: 9.91%
  • Nilandron: 9.91%
  • Panretin: 9.91%
  • Frova: 9.9%
  • Indocin: 9.9%
  • Lidoderm: 9.9%
  • Nucynta: 9.9%
  • Nucynta Er: 9.9%
  • Percocet: 9.9%
  • Theo-24: 9.9%
  • Xtampza Er: 9.9%
  • Cambia: 9.9%
  • Jatenzo: 9.9%
  • Parnate: 9.89%
  • Elcys: 9.8%
  • Kapvay: 9.74%
  • Viokace: 9.5%
  • Ampyra: 9.5%
  • Palforzia: 9.5%
  • Northera: 9.5%
  • Onfi: 9.5%
  • Sabril: 9.5%
  • Xenazine: 9.5%

For a complete list of the 700-plus prescription drugs that have seen price hikes so far this month, visit GoodRx’s blog.

If you wonder why you haven’t heard of most of the medications, GoodRx notes that drugs that increase in price generally are specialty drugs that are not commonly prescribed.

The website also note that it tracks list prices, which are the prices that manufacturers set for their drugs. List prices generally differ from the prices that consumers end up paying for their prescriptions — although list prices still serve as a barometer of sorts.

As GoodRx explains:

“Few patients actually pay this price because they are typically shielded by their health insurance. But the list price is still a good proxy for the price of a drug. In essence, rising list prices lead to rising out-of-pocket costs for patients.”

Why are prescription drug prices rising?

The reasons behind drug price increases vary depending on the type of drug, according to a study published in “Health Affairs” in 2019.

The research was based on an examination of the prices of drugs (including those taken by mouth and those injected) each year from 2008 through 2016.

Price increases for generic and specialty drugs are driven primarily by new product entry — meaning the price hikes can be attributed primarily to new drugs coming on the market — the study found.

However, price increases for brand-name drugs are driven primarily by the impact of inflation on the prices of existing drugs.

Lead study author Inmaculada Hernandez, an assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Pittsburgh, told National Public Radio:

“The main takeaway of our study should be that increases in prices of brand-name drugs were largely driven by year-over-year price increases of drugs that were already in the market.”

How to save on prescriptions

Fast-growing prices make it all the more important to shop smart when you fill prescriptions.

Here are a few cost-saving tips:

  1. Use a cheaper pharmacy: Different pharmacies often charge different prices for the same medication, so shop around. Don’t overlook warehouse chains like Costco or Sam’s Club, either — you generally don’t need to be a member to use their pharmacies.
  2. Go online: Price comparison sites are a great tool — “5 Websites You Should Check Before Buying Prescriptions” explains how and where to look.
  3. Find a better Medicare deal for drugs: If you have Medicare as your health insurance, check whether switching plans can save you money, whether you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D drug plan. “How to Save Hundreds of Dollars on Medicare Drug Costs” tells how to shop around and how to find free Medicare help through a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP). Be sure to consult a SHIP expert before switching, because changing Medicare plans can be risky, as we have reported.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
The 5 Worst Home Upgrades for the Money
The 5 Worst Home Upgrades for the Money

These home improvement projects basically never pay off.

11 Foods That Can Keep for Years
11 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement
8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement

Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for — and adjust to — life in your golden years.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon
8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon

They say you get what you pay for — but not always. Sometimes, you can uncover a good deal at a great price.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

17 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money
17 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money

You probably don’t realize these items are worth decent cash.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire
These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire

If you expect to have modest retirement income, you may want to avoid spending your golden years here.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.