Sep 25, 2018 - Health

Drug prices aren’t going down

Schumer and Pelosi next to a drug price sign

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Drug prices are still climbing higher, despite President Trump’s promises of big and immediate discounts.

By the numbers: At the end of July, drugmakers had raised the price of brand-name products more than 4,400 times this year, compared with 46 price cuts, according to an Associated Press analysis. That works out to 96 increases for every reduction.

  • In the two months after Trump announced his administration's blueprint to lower drug prices, there were 16.5 price hikes for every price cut.
  • Both the median price hike and median price cut were smaller than usual during that period, suggesting the industry may be “self-policing” — but not enough to change the overall upward trajectory of drug prices.
  • “The rate of increases has slowed down, but prices haven’t decreased,” Stephen Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the University of Minnesota, told AP.

Eternal caveat: Few patients pay the full sticker price for drugs. Discounts and rebates can hold insured patients’ costs flat even as list prices rise.

  • But sticker prices are still the starting point for those negotiations, so they’re an important part of the process — and uninsured patients do have to pay the whole thing.

Flashback: The illusion of lower drug prices.

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