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Many drug companies have conceded that the days of super-sized price increases, which sometimes occurred multiple times per year, are gone for now. President Trump's rhetoric around price controls and public outrage over high drug costs have forced the industry to soften, as it heavily lobbies politicians behind the scenes.

So does that mean the drug industry will lose a lot of money? Not really. First-quarter reports show many of the largest pharmaceutical companies increased their profits compared with the same period last year. Sales of some drugs lagged, but companies still hiked list prices by high single digits — well above general inflation.

Expand chart
Data: Company earnings reports; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

A handful of major pharmaceutical firms reported higher first-quarter earnings this week. Part of that was due to cutting back on operating expenses, like research and marketing, but list prices were also raised for many drugs.

  • Amgen: Profit jumped 9%, surpassing $2 billion, even though sales declined. Amgen raised the list price of its major rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel by 8.4% in January, according to data obtained by Axios, as a way to offset competing drugs.
  • AbbVie: Profit soared 26%. Arthritis blockbuster drug Humira, which got an 8.4% list price boost in January, continues to be the company's biggest earner.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb: A 32% jolt to earnings came thanks to big sales of cancer drug Opdivo.
  • Celgene: First-quarter profit almost hit $1 billion as demand for multiple myeloma drug Revlimid took off. Celgene raised the list price of Revlimid by 8% in January.
  • Biogen: Sales of its multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera basically stayed the same despite an 8% price hike in January. Biogen's profit declined, but it was still around three-quarters of a billion dollars.
  • Eli Lilly: Lost money due to severance and acquisition costs, not because people weren't buying their drugs.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

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