Despite public and political pressure, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer keeps raising the prices of its drugs—standing apart from some of its rivals who have vowed to rein in periodic price hiking.
Around 100 of Pfizer’s drugs got higher list prices this week, the first reported. The affected drugs include big sellers, such as Lyrica pain capsules, Chantix smoking-cessation medication, Norvasc blood-pressure pills, and the lung-cancer treatment Xalkori.
The price hikes mark a second round of increases for Pfizer this year. While many of the price changes in the individual rounds hover at or under 10 percent—many at 9.4 percent—the hikes collectively boost many drugs’ prices by double-digit percentages for the year overall. For instance, Chantix’s price jumped nearly 17 percent this year; Pfizer gave it a 9.4 percent increase in January and another seven percent boost July 1, bringing the list price of a 56-tablet bottle to $429, the noted. Likewise, Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra saw a 9.4 percent increase July 1 after a similar hike in January. Those hikes bring the list price of a month’s supply to $2,211.
Such twice-a-year price increases of around 10 percent used to be commonplace in the US pharmaceutical industry. But notable, eye-popping hikes have made such bumps a flashpoint for consumers and lawmakers. Public fury ignited at Martin Shkreli’s abrupt 5,000 percent price increase of an old, cheap anti-parasitic drug—one often given to babies and people with HIV/AIDS, for instance. And Mylan’s gradual 400 percent price increase for the live-saving EpiPen further enraged the public and Congressional committees.
In the aftermath, many—but not all—of Pfizer’s rivals pledged to raise prices just once a year and generally keep the hikes to just under 10 percent. Moreover, President Donald Trump suggested on May 30 that the industry was poised to make “massive” voluntary price cuts in the coming weeks.
No such cuts have been announced, and Pfizer’s continued increases belie that notion. “The latest increases signal that it is ‘business as usual’ rather than the voluntary concessions that Trump indicated were coming,” Michael Rea, chief executive of Rx Savings Solutions, told the .
In a statement, Pfizer addressed its price increases, saying:
The list price remains unchanged for the majority of our medicines. We are modifying prices for about 10 percent of our medicines, including some instances where we’re decreasing the price.
Pfizer lowered the price of five products, with dips ranging from 16 to 44 percent, the noted.