Jan 21, 2022

CBO Finds Net Prices for Brand Name Drugs More Than Doubled from 2009-2018; HHS Finds More Than Five Million Beneficiaries Struggled to Afford Prescriptions in 2019

Two government reports released this week underscore the urgency for action to rein in out-of-control prescription drug prices by holding Big Pharma accountable. A report released Wednesday from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) examined trends in pricing and spending on prescription drugs from 1980 to 2018 in federal health care programs, while a separate report also released Wednesday from the U.S. Health & Human Services Department (HHS) analyzes prescription drug affordability among Medicare beneficiaries.

According to the CBO report, the average net price for brand name drugs covered under the Medicare Part D program more than doubled, from $149 in 2008 to more than $353 in 2019. In Medicaid, over the same time span, the average net price for a brand name drug jumped from $147 to $218. The report also found that from 2010 to 2017 net prices for brand name drugs increased by an average of more than six percent faster than the rate of inflation per year.

The HHS report underscored how the crisis of prescription drug affordability, created by brand name drug companies, exacerbates equity challenges facing the nation. The report found more than five million Medicare beneficiaries struggled to afford their prescription drugs in 2019, with Black and Latino adults almost one-and-a-half times more likely to face financial uncertainty in affording their medications. HHS’s report also found that women, those with lower incomes and those diagnosed with chronic conditions all faced higher rates of financial insecurity affording their medications.

The report highlighted several key solutions to deliver relief for American patients, including “limitations on price increases over time, changes to the Medicare Part D benefit to reduce patient cost-sharing and cap beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending.”

The two new reports underscore the urgency to hold drug companies accountable for their egregious pricing practices and anti-competitive tactics, which have continued unabated during the pandemic.

Read CBO’s report “Prescription Drugs: Spending, Use, and Prices” HERE.

Read HHS’ report “Prescription Drug Affordability among Medicare Beneficiaries” HERE.

Learn more about market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.