Drug Makers Raise Prices In Face of Health Care Reform

Duff Wilson wrote an article for the New York Times today and it is just so troubling that I needed to present at least the first part of it (you need to subscribe to the NY Times to read the rest – they offer a free subscription):

“Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years.

Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, a pharmaceutical economics professor at the University of Minnesota, said, “When we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases.”

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year.

Drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.

“When we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases,” says Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the University of Minnesota. He has analyzed drug pricing for AARP, the advocacy group for seniors that supports the House health care legislation that the drug industry opposes.

A Harvard health economist, Joseph P. Newhouse, said he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare a few years ago, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices by the widest margin in a half-dozen years.

“They try to maximize their profits,” Mr. Newhouse said.

So much for working together to ease the health care crisis and help our economy get back on its feet.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.