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New Year, Old Story: Drug Prices Are Going Up

So far in January, the increases average 5%

2020 is off to a not-so-new start: Drug prices are going up.

The GoodRx research team is watching for price increases among 3,568 drugs (2,555 brand and 1,013 generic) throughout January, says Tori Marsh, MPH, the company’s resident expert on drug pricing and savings. So far, the prices of 471 drugs have risen by an average of 5%, including average increases of 5.1% for 466 brand drugs and 2.3% for five generic drugs.

The drugs with the largest price increases, GoodRx says, include Cotempla XR (13.2%); Neoprofen and Nucynta (10.0%), and Cambia, Increlex, Indocin, Inveltys, Juxtapid, Lorzone, Myalept, Nucynta ER, Onivyde, Onzetra, Oxaydo, Quillivant XR, Silenor, Sprix, Vivlodex, Xtampza ER, Zerbaxa, Zipsor, and Zorvolex (all 9.9%).

The most commonly prescribed drugs that have gone up in price, according to GoodRx, include diazepam (generic Valium) (7.8%); Creon and Humira (7.4%); Cosentyx (7.0%); Eliquis, Jardiance, Qvar, Spiriva, Tecfidera, and Tradjenta (6.0%); Gilenya (5.5%); Armour Thyroid, Bystolic, Chantix, Lo Loestrin FE, Premarin, Viibryd, and Vyvanse (5.0%); Janumet and Januvia (4.9%); Truvada (4.8%); and Breo Ellipta, Bydureon, Farxiga, Flovent, and Symbicort (all 3.0%).

In January 2019, 486 brand drugs increased by an average of 5.2%, while in January 2018, 580 brand drugs increased by an average of 8.0%. While start-of-the-year drug price hikes remain common, Marsh says manufacturers are starting to delay them well into January. For instance, in 2018, 98% of price increases occurred in the first five days of January, while price hikes lasted until January 19 in 2019.

All of these prices are based on the list price—the price of a drug that is set by the manufacturer. Few patients pay this price because they are typically shielded by health insurance. But the list price is still a good proxy for the price of a drug. In essence, rising list prices lead to rising out-of-pocket costs for patients.

This analysis tracks all drugs in the GoodRx list price index as of December 31, 2019, excluding over-the-counter drugs and drugs administered by health care practitioners. It represents the drugs that are typically dispensed at a retail pharmacy. The list of most commonly prescribed drugs with an effective price increase is based on a nationally representative dataset of prescription drug claims. It excludes brand-name drugs that have a generic equivalent.

Source: GoodRx, January 6, 2020

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