posted by AHIP
on September 10, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Out-of-control drug prices mean too many patients are forced to choose between paying for their prescription or paying their mortgage. The prices for drugs to treat rare medical conditions are 25 times more expensive than traditional drugs. That is a 26-fold increase in two decades, according to a new report by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). The study shows that orphan drugs are now entering the market at higher prices than ever before, ranging from tens-of-thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars per patient.
The Orphan Drug Act was passed in 1983 to encourage pharmaceutical manufacturers to invest in treatments for rare diseases and conditions – so-called “orphan diseases” – that had been ignored because their small patient populations (fewer than 200,000 Americans) made them unprofitable. The intent was to create incentives to encourage drug makers to develop treatments for rare diseases by enabling them to realize a modest profit. Unfortunately, drug makers have responded by building lucrative business models that empower them to achieve a gross profit margin of more than 80% – compared to an average gross profit margin of 16% for the rest of the pharmaceutical industry.
Here are the takeaways from the AHIP study:
“Every patient deserves to get the medications they need at a cost they can afford, but drug makers are gaming well-intentioned legislation to generate outsized profits from drugs intended to treat a small population of patients with rare diseases,” said Matt Eyles, president and CEO of AHIP. “Now more than ever we need lawmakers to revisit the Orphan Drug Act. We must balance the incentives to develop new treatments for rare diseases while preventing drug makers from exploiting the system with launch prices that defy gravity, blocking competition, and increasing their prices on the same products year after year.”