Manufacturers Increasing Prices in Lockstep to Raise Prices Across New Drug Category

Vaccines against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are so new they aren’t even widely available to patients — but that hasn’t stopped their Big Pharma manufacturers from scheming to increase their price to boost profits.

The FDA approved two RSV vaccines for older Americans in May, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Arexvy and Pfizer’s Abrysvo.

Ahead of Arexvy’s approval, GSK said it anticipated pricing the shot somewhere between $60 and $185. Immediately following FDA approval, GSK indicated their price would land in the higher end of the range, above $120.

Then, as Pfizer shared a price range of $180 to $270 with advisors for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), GSK shared a new range, increasing their projected price to be between $200 and $295 — despite indicating a high-end of $185 just weeks before.

At the CDC advisor meeting, Pfizer also hinted at further increases to the price of their shot by refusing to even commit to staying within the range they offered. “Among other concerns, some of the committee members were unhappy that Pfizer would not commit to a price for its vaccine,” CNN reported.

The two brand name manufacturers already driving up prices across a new category of drug smacks of a Big Pharma tactic called “shadow pricing.” This tactic involves pharmaceutical companies working together to increase the price of similar products around the same time to elevate the price of a category of medications, which forces payers and patients to pay the increased price.

The most notorious example of Big Pharma engaging in “shadow pricing” deals with insulin products. Over the course of years, Big Pharma giants that dominated the insulin market worked in lockstep to increase prices on insulin products around the same time, preventing patients from accessing lower cost alternatives. According to a 2021 report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, “Novo Nordisk and Sanofi not only closely monitored the others’ price increases, they actually increased prices in lockstep – sometimes within hours or days of each other.”

Big Pharma’s pricing tactics around RSV vaccines are only the latest example of the industry’s egregious pricing behavior – and the latest reminder of why policymakers must hold Big Pharma accountable to lower prescription drug prices.

Read more about Big Pharma’s price increases on RSV vaccines HERE.

Read more about Big Pharma’s history of “shadow pricing” on insulin products HERE.

Read more on bipartisan, market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.

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