October 1, 2018
RunawayRx's Dose of Reality series helps keep the public up-to-date on pharma's latest drug pricing schemes and major happenings around the industry. Our most recent edition highlights the exorbitant cost of oncology drugs, a new analysis on drugmakers from the Associated Press, one pharma CEO's "moral requirement" to increase prices, the mysterious tactics of the makers of Gleevec, and incessant but likely unnecessary insulin price hikes. 
The list price of the cancer treatment Kymriah is between $373,000 and $475,000 per patient. When the costs of other necessary medical support is tallied up, the total average cost for treatment rises to anywhere from $500,000 to $850,000 per patient. These sky-high prices led a leading oncologist, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel - vice provost of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania - to warn of the broader implications out-of-control pricing may have:  
"A cure for cancer has become possible, even probable. But tragically, the costs of these drug therapies are so high that the American health care system can't afford them...

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the drug companies are charging so much for these revolutionary, lifesaving therapies because it's what the market will bear-and what current public policy allows. If we are going to make immunotherapy and other cancer drugs available to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who need them, it will require a new approach, with government in the lead." 

Get the full story from The Wall Street Journal here
AP investigation: Drug prices going up despite Trump promise

"The AP analyzed 26,176 U.S. list price changes for brand-name prescription drugs from Jan. 1 through July 31 in the years 2015 through 2018...

"Among the AP's findings: ... companies still hiked prices far more often than they cut them. This year through the end of July, there were 4,412 brand-name drug price increases and 46 price cuts, a ratio of 96-to-1.

"In June and July, right after Trump's price cut prediction, there were 395 price increases and 24 decreases. The two dozen cuts were up from the 15 decreases in those same two months last year, but increases still outpaced decreases by a ratio of 16.5-to-1...

"The AP also asked 24 large drug companies this summer if they planned to cut drug prices. None said they did, though some didn't answer. Drugmakers typically say they need to keep raising prices of existing drugs to pay for costly, lengthy research to develop new medicines, though industry critics dispute that."

Read more  here .
Los Angeles Times: Drug executive: It's a 'moral requirement' to charge patients the highest price

"In the category of saying the quiet parts out loud, consider this statement by Nirmal Mulye, the chief executive of drug company Nostrum Laboratories: 'I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can...to sell the product for the highest price'...

"Nostrum is one of only two current marketers in the U.S. of a liquid formulation of nitrofurantoin; Mulye said his firm increased its price in response to a similar hike by the other drug maker, Casper Pharma, which recently increased the price of its product, which it markets under the brand name Furadantin, to $2,800 a bottle.

"'The point here is the only other choice is the brand at the higher price,' Mulye told the FT. He observed that even after Nostrum's hike, its product is still cheaper than Casper's: 'It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not.'"

Read more  here.
Forbes: The curious case of Gleevec pricing

"When first approved, Gleevec ushered in a new era of targeted oncology drugs. At its introduction in 2001, the list price of Gleevec was $26,000 per year. At the time of its patent expiration, the price had risen to over $120,000 annually...

"G leevec is a specialty drug. And, since 2000 the  biggest driver of prescription drug cost growth  has been specialty pharmaceuticals. Specialty drug spending has risen by close to 15% annually. Also, Gleevec's increase in price prior to patent expiration is a typical strategy, not unique to Gleevec.

"What is atypical is the fact that generic imatinib's list price has remained stubbornly high. In late 2017, almost two years after its patent expiration a month's supply of branded Gleevec was priced at around $9,000, while the  cost of generic imatinib was about $8,000.

"This is both puzzling and troubling, and appears to suggest that the  pricing model for specialty generics  differs from traditional generics."

Read more  here.
STAT: Insulin prices could be much lower and drug makers would still make healthy profits

"As prices for diabetes treatments continue to roil consumers, a new study suggests that manufacturers could make both human and analog insulins at low costs and still pocket a profit...

"'Anyone with Type 1 diabetes should be able to buy insulin for under $100 per year, including the long-acting forms,' said Andrew Hill, a study co-author and senior visiting research fellow at the University of Liverpool. 'Pharmaceutical companies cannot justify charging governments $532 per person per year in the U.K. and $1,251 in the U.S., let alone similar amounts in low- and middle-income countries.'"

Read more  here.
For the latest updates and information on the prescription drug pricing crisis, visit the RunawayRx website:
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