Sticker Shock: Pfizer Hikes Prices for 105 Drugs

Photo (cc) by CarbonNYC [in SF!]

Despite rising criticism of outrageously high drug prices in the United States, Pfizer rang in 2016 by hiking the U.S. price of 105 of its drugs, some by a whopping 20 percent.

The drug prices increased on Jan. 1. The statistics were compiled by global information services company Wolters Kluwer and published by UBS Securities, Reuters reports.

Pfizer is also in the midst of pursuing a $160 billion merger with Ireland-based Allergan — a controversial move that will enable the pharma giant to avoid paying U.S. taxes. If the union – known as a corporate inversion – is successful, Pfizer will move its headquarters overseas and reincorporate with Allergan. The merger would create the biggest drug maker in the world (based on sales).

The cost of Pfizer’s popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra – which had U.S. sales of $1.1 billion in 2014 – went up by 12.9 percent while pain pill Lyrica – which generated $2.3 billion in 2014 sales – got a 9.4 percent bump in price. The cost of novel breast cancer drug Ibrance, which hit the market last year with a staggering list price of $9,850 per month, was increased by 5 percent.

“Medicines are among the most effective and efficient use of private and public health care dollars,” Pfizer said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

The UBS note said the antibiotic Tygacil, anticonvulsant Dilantin, hormone therapy Menest, and angina drug Nitrostat, among others, shot up 20 percent on Jan. 1.

“In recent years, it has been common for drug companies to push through annual price increases in at least the high single digits around Jan. 1 for many brands — and in some cases additional increases throughout the year,” The Wall Street Journal explained.

The most recent round of drug price hikes, which are not limited to Pfizer, is significant considering there is mounting political pressure in the United States for drug companies to rein in what many see as exorbitant price tags for meds. (“Senate Looks at Drug Companies Behind Massive Price Increases“)

According to the Journal, U.S. prescription-drug spending spiked by 12.2 percent in 2014 after a 2.4 percent increase in 2013.

Jefferies analyst David Steinberg told the paper that the most recent increase in drug prices “signals there’s still pricing power.”

“Unlike other countries, there’s no mechanism whereby regulatory authorities can control price,” Steinberg noted.

Check out “The War on Absurdly Expensive Drugs Has a Surprising Ally.”

Do you think prescription drug prices are out of control? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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