Jan 4, 2021

Drug Companies Double Down In Second Major Round Of Pandemic Price Hikes As Americans Battle Public Health Crisis

Washington, D.C. – The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) released a statement Monday after Big Pharma rang in the New Year by hiking prices on hundreds of prescription drugs while Americans continue to grapple with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Drug companies have already increased prices on at least 582 brand name drugs in the early days of 2021 as part of the industry’s traditional biennial price hikes. This past summer, Big Pharma increased prices on more than 65 brand name drugs by an average of 3.1 percent.

“It may be a New Year but it’s the same price-hiking, business-as-usual playbook for Big Pharma,” said CSRxP executive director Lauren Aronson. “With this latest round of price hikes, Big Pharma continues to double-down on the industry’s favorite anti-competitive, price-gouging practices, even as Americans battle a public health crisis and millions struggle to afford their medications.”

“Big Pharma’s latest, and even larger, round of pandemic price hikes demonstrate clearly why policymakers in Washington must act swiftly to hold drug companies accountable — especially when you consider the industry is receiving billions of dollars from taxpayers for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,” Aronson continued. “As Congress gavels back into session this week, lawmakers must get to work on bipartisan, market-based solutions to increase competition, boost transparency and crack down on Big Pharma’s egregious practices.”

According to a new analysis from GoodRx, brand name drug companies, including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, increased the price of more than 580 drugs to start the new year, with an average price increase of over four percent.

  • Pfizer hiked prices on more than 130 drugs, including on its cancer treatment Ibrance and popular rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz.
  • GlaxoSmithKline raised prices on more than 30 drugs, including on its blockbuster respiratory treatments and its cancer drug Zejula.
  • Sanofi raised prices on more than one dozen of its drugs.

Last summer, despite calls to suspend traditional mid-year price hikes during the pandemic, Big Pharma hiked prescription drug prices on more than 65 brand name drugs.

And while Big Pharma routinely tries to justify drug price hikes by pointing to research and development (R&D). The truth is:

  • Price Hikes Aren’t Connected To Drug Improvements: Drug companies hiked prices on seven popular drugs in 2017 and 2018 with no evidence that the drugs had been improved, resulting in $5.1 billion in increased costs.
  • Big Pharma Puts Profits Before R&D: Big Pharma used a windfall from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to line shareholders’ pockets, rather than invest in R&D. In fact, the single-year increase in payouts to Wall Street and shareholding Big Pharma board members and executives was 17 times larger than the increase in R&D spending.
  • The Industry Is Thriving While Millions Are Struggling: 10 of the largest Big Pharma companies reported expectation-besting earnings for the third quarter of 2020 after hiking prices on American patients.

Big Pharma is busting profit and revenue expectations and receiving billions of dollars in research funding from taxpayers while millions of Americans are struggling. Engaging in price hikes during a pandemic, while receiving billions of dollars from taxpayers to help develop COVID-19 treatments, demonstrates why policymakers must act to hold Big Pharma accountable.

Read more on market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices HERE.