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​7 Prescription-Drug Price Hikes Cost U.S. Nearly $1.7 Billion in 2020

​Higher prices come despite no increased benefits from those medicines, new report finds

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 25:  Humira, the injectable rheumatoid arthritis treatment is pictured in a pharmacy in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Wednesday, January 25, 2006. Abbott Laboratories said fourth-quarter sales were lifted by surging demand for its arthritis treatment while Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said revenue fell as it faces a patent fight on its best-selling product.  (Photo by Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Show Your Rx Receipts to Demand Lower Prices

Prescription-drug price increases among 7 of 10 top-selling medications cost the U.S. health care system almost $1.7 billion in 2020, according to a recent report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

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The institute looked at 10 of the top 250 best-selling prescription drugs last year and found that 7 of the 10 price hikes did not come because the effectiveness of these medications increased. The report called these price increases "unsupported."

One drug — Humira, used for severe Crohn’s disease — alone accounted for $1.4 billion of the $1.67 billion increase in U.S. drug spending.

While many brand-name drugs continue to hit the market with very high prices, the yearly price increases have moderated, the institute found. "However, there remain many high-cost brand drugs that continue to experience annual price hikes," David Rind, the institute's chief medical officer said in a statement. "The most extreme of these is Humira, with an ever-escalating U.S. price that contrasts starkly to its falling price in every country where Humira faces biosimilar competition." Biosimilars are generic alternatives to biologic medications.

Here's a look at the seven medications the institute analyzed. The costs to the U.S. health care system were calculated after accounting for pharmaceutical company rebates and other discounts. 

  • The price of Humira, which treats severe Crohn’s disease, increased by 9.6 percent. Cost to U.S.: $1.4 billion.
  • The price of Promacta, which treats a blood disorder called chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), increased by 14.1 percent. Cost to U.S.: $100 million.
  • The price of Tysabri, a monoclonal antibody used to treat multiple sclerosis, increased by 4.2 percent. Cost to U.S.: $44 million.
  • The price of Xifaxan, used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, increased by 3 percent. Cost to U.S.: $44 million.
  • The price of Trokendi, used to prevent migraine headaches, increased by 12.4 percent. Cost to U.S.: $36 million.
  • The price of Lupron Depot, used to treat endometriosis in women and prostate cancer in men, increased by 5.9 percent. Cost to U.S.: $30 million.
  • The price of Krystexxa, used to treat chronic gout, increased by 5.2 percent. Cost to U.S.: $19 million. 

AARP continues fight for lower drug prices

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