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Drug Of The Week: How To Justify A 137% Drug Price Hike?

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on December 21, 2015

DOTW_Diovan_V3

Over the weekend, the New York Times summed up the current state of drug pricing in its latest editorial – “No Justification for High Drug Prices.”

“There is ample evidence that drug prices have been pushed to astronomical heights for no reason other than the desire of drug makers to maximize profits,” the editorial noted.

Exhibit A: Check out Diovan, a hypertension drug from Novartis, that is the spotlight medication for our latest Drug of the Week series. Novartis originally charged $2.35 a pill for Diovan in 2007. By 2014, the drug company was charging $5.56 a pill in 2014. The cost increase did not account for any improvements or changes related to the drug’s production or efficacy, but occurred simply because Novartis could raise the price without any justification.

While the New York Times editorial cited 10 percent price increases for certain drugs, Diovan’s price skyrocketed 137 percent, driving up costs for patients who can least afford it. More than 1 million Medicare patients take Diovan to control their high blood pressure, and many of these patients will face a lifetime of treatment for the chronic condition. As Diovan’s price rises, elderly patients on a fixed-income increasingly struggle to pay for needed treatment and make ends meet.

Drugmakers continue to push prices higher without rhyme or reason – and that’s something the health care system and patients can’t afford.