Prices for top-selling prescription drugs often doubled in the last five years years, according to a Reuters analysis, rising much faster than the cost of doctor visits and hospitalization. Bobbi Rebell reports.
American consumers are paying up and up for some of their most needed drugs. A Reuters analysis of proprietary data found huge drug price increases on top drugs for common ailments like arthritis, cholesterol, and asthma over the past five years. For four of the top 10 drugs- prices increased more than doubled since 2011. Six others went up more than fifty percent. Overall spending on drugs rose faster than doctor visits and hospitalization according to Federal Data. While some price hikes were by Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant, companies that have received a flood of bad publicity for their moves, routine price increases from bigger players like Amgen, Teva and Abbvie have added up as well. Drug companies say they have to pay for failed drugs and support new research efforts, and add that with discounts and negotiated deals with insurers, consumers often don't pay the list price. Increasingly, the companies that pay for the drugs are pushing back: Reuters Caroline Humer: (SOUNDBITE) CAROLINE HUMER, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The pharmaceutical benefit managers, the PBMs, Express Scripts, CVS Caremark, Optum. These are companies that go in and negotiate and they have been cutting more and more drugs out of their list of coverage and so if you want say one kind of rheumatoid arthritis drug, it might not be covered by your insurer. That is a lot of pressure and that seems to be an open market free market way to try to push the drug makers to keep their increases in check. " But Humer adds that so far in 2016, the price increases are just as big as they were last year.