Sep 25, 2018

Drug prices aren’t going down

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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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They're talking about health care, Russian interference in the election, the economy and race.

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Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for reelection. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected.

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