October 16, 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 latest edition highlights troubling revelations about PhRMA's refiled litigation against SB 17, a new analysis that confirms drug companies are using price hikes to profit off the most popular medications, new guidelines from the FDA to curb abuses that delay the approval of generic drugs, and much more. 
In a recent column, The Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik explored PhRMA's refiling of litigation against Senate Bill 17, California's landmark drug pricing transparency legislation. In his piece, Hiltzik walks through the numerous arguments presented in the industry's lawsuit, questioning the soundness of many of the arguments and coming to this conclusion: if drugmakers didn't believe SB 17 would impact their revenue, they wouldn't be fighting this hard. 

"Nothing brings an industry's dirty little secrets to light as effectively as litigation, especially when the industry gives up those secrets voluntarily, in the service of making more profit than it could obtain by remaining silent...

"...the industry essentially says that in some cases there may not be 'any justification' for a price increase, or at least that sometimes the reason for the increase may not be obvious even to the manufacturers themselves...

"Whether SB 17 actually will lead to lower prices is open to question, but the drug companies plainly fear it will, and we should take them at their word."

Read more  here
STAT: Surprise, surprise: Price hikes contributed a lot to sales growth for the biggest-selling drugs

"Despite all the debate over prescription drug costs, what is not always clear is just how much price hikes matter to the pharmaceutical industry. And a new analysis finds, not surprisingly, they matter a lot.

"Overall, price increases contributed a whopping 61 percent of the 28 percent growth in U.S. sales for 45 of the biggest-selling medicines over the past three years. Put another way, price hikes generated roughly $14.3 billion of the $23.3 billion in sales growth for those medicines from 2014 to 2017, according to a report by Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges...

"The numbers are significant because Porges examined what he called 'signature products,' the medicines that generate huge chunks of U.S. revenue for the drug companies. Specifically, the price hikes for the 45 medicines that were scrutinized accounted for 48 percent of the $29.5 billion in total reported revenue growth for the 15 drug makers." 

Read more here
AARP: No End in Sight for Skyrocketing Brand Name Drug Prices

"For more than a decade, brand name drug prices have exceeded the general inflation rate of other consumer goods by a factor of two-fold to more than 100-fold, according to the new 'Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2017 Year-End Update' released today by AARP Public Policy Institute...

"'Despite years of relentless public criticism, brand name drug companies continue increasing the prices of their products at rates that far exceed general inflation,' said AARP Chief Public Policy Officer Debra Whitman. 'It's clear that we need long-term, meaningful policies that go beyond just hoping that the drug industry will voluntarily change its excessive pricing behavior.'"

Key Takeaways: 
  • Brand name drug prices increased four times faster than the 2017 general inflation rate.
  • Retail prices in 2017 increased for 87 percent of the 267 brand name drugs studied.
  • Retail prices for 113 chronic-use brand name drugs on the market since at least 2006 increased cumulatively over 12 years by an average of 214 percent compared with the cumulative general inflation rate of 25 percent between 2006 to 2017.
Read more here.
STAT: FDA looks to block drug makers from using citizen petitions to delay generics

"After years of concern, the Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidelines that are designed to limit the use of citizen petitions to delay approval of generic drugs or biosimilars... 

"'We will not shy away from calling out instances where we believe brand firms may be leveraging tools intended to serve a useful purpose to instead thwart competition that can drive down prices for patients,'  FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement...

"....A 2016 analysis by Michael Carrier, a Rutgers University School of Law professor who specializes in anticompetitive practices and intellectual property, found that brand-name drug makers filed 92 percent of such citizen petitions between 2011 and 2015, although the FDA denied more than 9 out of every 10 petitions. In a separate analysis, which he co-authored, Carrier cited as an example of abuse a petition filed by Mylan to thwart a rival to its EpiPen device."

Read more here
For the latest updates and information on the prescription drug pricing crisis, visit the RunawayRx website:
RunawayRx | (818) 760-2121 | info@runawayrx.org