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Coronavirus: Pharmaceutical companies raise prices on COVID-19 drugs

Written by Diane Archer

Between January and June of this year, pharmaceutical companies increased prices on 245 drugs, in a series of price hike similar to price hikes in 2019, according to a new report from Patients for Affordable Drugs. Three out of four of these drugs are related to treatment for COVID-19.

Pharmaceutical companies raised prices on 61 drugs used to treat COVID-19. They also raised prices on 30 drugs used in clinical trials for treatment of COVID-19. And, they raised prices on 118 drugs that treat chronic conditions.

The price of certain cancer drugs has increased between $129.93 for Arimidex, used to treat breast cancer, and $3,487.77 for Provenge, used to treat prostate cancer. Other drugs for breast and prostate cancer, as well as for multiple myeloma, have also increased in price significantly in the last six months.

In addition, the price of Ativan and other drugs for anxiety and depression are up significantly. Increases are between five percent and nine and a half percent.

Patients are skipping or rationing their medicines because they cannot afford them, even with insurance. In fact, insurance can drive up the price of some drugs. The New York Times reports on two people who got COVID-19 tests at the same time, one with insurance and one without. The one without insurance paid $199. The one with insurance received a bill for $6,408 and was stuck with a copay from her insurer of $928.

Congress should regulate drug prices, as every other wealthy country does. People in the US should not be paying more for drugs than the Germans or the Japanese. Instead, Congress has allowed pharmaceutical corporations to hike up prices as much as they please. Pharmaceutical corporations have raised the price of many drugs by far more than the rate of inflation and insurers have not stopped them from keeping drug prices high for people with coverage.

Congress should pass H.R. 3, which passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year. It would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the right to negotiate the cost of high-priced drugs. The price could not be more than 20 percent above the cost in other wealthy nations.

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1 Comment

  • …it’s criminal what pharma corporations charge. Eli-Lily under Mr. Azar hiked the price of Insulin by more than a factor of 3, meanwhile the proposed charge for a 5 day regimen of remdesivir (which was recently approved) by Gilead whom the Trump regime has given exclusive patent rights to) will cost over 3.100$. What will happen when a vaccine is finally tested and approved, how much will that cost (it should be free or at a very minimal cost like the current influenza vaccines)?

    These companies benefit from grants as well as tax breaks and use of public facilities (universities) for their development while spending tens if not hundreds of millions a year on lobbying and slick adverts. Grossly profiting off of others’ misfortune is bad enough, doing so during a worldwide pandemic emergency is heinous, unconscionable, and downright evil. The blood of those who cannot afford life saving medications and/or vaccines is, and will continue to be, on their selfish greedy hands.

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