Recent price hikes in some prescription drugs shocked researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UMMSM) in Fla. after they learned that price rises in 19 skin drugs saw increases of 60 percent to nearly 1,700 percent in just six years.
For these drugs the average rise was of 400 percent which is far more than any increases observed in general health care costs.
“It was shocking to us when we saw some of the prices,”
said Dr. Steven Rosenberg, lead author of the study and dermatology expert at UMMSM.
Rosenberg explained that the stunning findings were confirmed as accurate by pharmacies. The issue of drug price increases sparked national controversy after New York-based Turing Pharmaceuticals decided in late September to hike the price of a drug necessary in AIDS and cancer treatment by over 5,000 percent. On Tuesday, the company said that the price would be lower in hospitals.
UMMSM researchers also found that more and more Americans must pay out-of-pocket for medicine because their insurers are shrinking the list of covered drugs year to year and they introduce high deductibles.
According to the research, one in five adults in the U.S. admitted not buying at least one prescription drug because of price.
In this study, the team focused on prices for drugs that treat skin-related medical problems. Pharmacies from Costco, CVS, Walgreens and Sam’s Club were surveyed on skin drug prices between 2009 and 2015. Pharmacies filled in questionnaires in four years over this period.
Although scientists analyzed nearly 100 drugs, they had to limit the study to 19 because only these were covered by all four questionnaires. The drugs are either used to treat skin cancer or other skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, infections, and eczema.
Prices of four drugs rose fourfold in six years, researchers noted, but the most significant hikes were recorded after 2011.
According to the study, price of skin cancer drugs that stop cancerous cells from spreading and tumors from further growing rose by $11,000 per year, which represents a 1,240 percent hike. This was the largest and most shocking price hike for this type of drugs. The smallest price hike was reported for drugs that help heal skin infections: $334 per year which is the equivalent of a 180 percent jump.
Surprisingly even generic drugs, which are cheaper alternatives to original brands, saw a jump in price after 2011, study authors found.
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