New Reports Highlight Why Reforms Are Needed To Rein-In Big Phrma

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Yesterday, Axios highlighted a report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), which found that drugmakers are not raising the prices on their products due to increased quality or safety, but simply because they can.

For example, Humira, the world’s best-selling prescription drug, saw a $1.9 billion increase in net spending attributable to its price increase last year with no discernible reason as to why the price increase was necessary.

First approved in 2002, Humira’s initial patent would have expired in 2016. However, AbbVie, the producer of Humira, has applied for and obtained over 75 patents, extending its monopoly until 2034. The patent abuse committed by AbbVie and other drugmakers is a prime contributor to the prescription drug pricing crisis. Without competition, prices on these medicines will keep increasing at the whims of their manufacturers.

Coming on the heels of the ICER report, Bloomberg Government found that Big Pharma has also funneled millions of dollars into nonprofits last year that are now actively campaigning against federal legislation that would attempt to bring down the rising price of prescription drugs.

As you are considering these developments, please consider the following quote from the Coalition Against Patent Abuse:

– “Without competition from generics or biosimilars in the market, Big Pharma will continue to abuse its patients over and over again. Policymakers must push for patent reform as a solution to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. Big Pharma abuses our patent system and locks much-needed competition out of the market. The millions of dollars being spent to stifle reform proves there is no limit on how far these companies are willing to go to order to milk their cash cows.” CAPA’s Executive Director Matthew Lane 

“Unsupported” drug price hikes cost Americans billions
Axios, October 8, 2019

Price hikes on 7 prominent drugs — all of them above the rate of medical inflation, none supported by clinical evidence — cost Americans more than $5 billion over the last two years, according to a new report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

Why it matters: Drugmakers weren’t hiking prices because their medications were safer or more effective than when they were approved. They did it because they could.

By the numbers: Here are the drugs (and manufacturers) highlighted in ICER’s report, along with the increase in net spending attributable to each drug’s price increase.

Humira (AbbVie): $1.9 billion
Rituxan (Roche): $806 million
Lyrica (Pfizer): $688 million
Truvada (Gilead Sciences): $550 million
Neulasta (Amgen): $489 million
Cialis (Eli Lilly): $403 million
Tecfidera (Biogen): $313 million

Those figures aren’t just the dollars Americans spent on drug copays and other out-of-pocket costs. They mostly reflect the higher amounts people paid through health insurance premiums and taxes.

A common thread: Most of those drugs have faced competition from generics or biosimilars. Erin Fox, a pharmacotherapy professor at the University of Utah, said in a tweet that is “a typical time to jack up prices without adding value.”

The other side: ICER published an appendix in the report, which has been in the works for months, that included rebuttals from the pharmaceutical firms in question.

  • The companies criticized the analysis for not factoring in the “value” of their drugs and lives saved, but ICER responded that “new evidence must provide information different from what was previously believed in order to support a price increase.”

About CAPA
The Coalition Against Patent Abuse are healthcare providers, consumer groups, patient advocacy organizations, free market advocates, employers, and others fighting abuses of the patent system that can extend government-granted monopolies that illegitimately keep drug prices high for years, or even decades. Our members include the following groups and organizations: America’s Health Insurance Plans, Association for Accessible Medicines, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, Citizen Outreach, Consumer Action, Innovation Defense Foundation, Institute for Liberty, Kaiser Permanente, Knowledge Ecology International, Lincoln Network, R Street Institute, Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.