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The most common drugs are getting more expensive

The cost of all but one of the 49 top-selling brand-name drugs included in a new JAMA study increased between 2012 and 2017.

By the numbers: The median cost increase of the drugs over these 6 years was 76%, and most drugs saw cost increases once or twice a year.

  • The results suggest that costs for popular branded drugs will double every 7 to 8 years.

Caveat: The study uses data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Axis, which includes data from 35 million privately insured people. It did not account for rebates, which can't be linked to individual claims.

  • But it did compare its results with third-party estimates of net price data for each drug, and found that there was high correlation between net prices and costs.
  • "This association suggests that the offered supposition that higher list prices and greater reliance on rebates reduce costs may be untrue," the authors write.

Key quote: "Competition among brand-name competitors appeared to do little to stymie rising costs."

  • "Instead, products that may be prescribed interchangeably ... were highly synchronized in relative cost changes while demonstrating some of the largest cost increases in the industry over the past 6 years."

Go deeper: The drug pricing maze