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Brand-name drug prices found to be rising at a slower pace in lower amounts

Drug companies are still raising prices for brand-name prescription medicines but not as often or by as much as they used to.

According to an Associated Press (AP) analysis provided by health information firm Elsevier, drug companies are still raising prices for brand-name prescription medicines in the US but not as often or by as much as they used to.

In the first seven months of 2019, drug makers raised list prices for brand-name prescription medicines by a median of 5 percent, the analysis says. That’s down from about 10 percent over those months the prior four years. From January through to July this year, there were 4,483 price hikes, down 36 percent from the same time frame in 2015. However, there were 37 price hikes for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019.

The AP analysed 32,795 US list price changes for brand-name prescription drugs from 1 January to 31 July in the years 2015 through to 2019, focusing on each year’s first seven months because of the seasonality of price changes. For most drugs, the figures include multiple products: different dosages, package sizes and formats such as pills, liquids and injectable drugs.

…there were 37 price hikes for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019″

Manufacturers set list prices and say they need to keep raising prices to fund research on future medicines, though what patients pay varies. 

The monthly Consumer Price Index also shows that average drug prices people pay declined 2 percent from June 2018 to June 2019. But that’s because 90 percent of prescriptions filled in the US are for generics, whose prices have been declining amid pressure from big drug distributors. That trend obscured price increases for the 10 percent of prescriptions filled with the more expensive brand-name drugs.

Many of this year’s brand name price increases were under 5 percent and some drug makers have not raised prices for over a year. 

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