HealthMay 13, 2019

In the news: 2019 brings drug price hikes

A recent GoodRx study found that more than 500 drugs saw price hikes of nearly 3% in the first quarter of 2019, according to an article in FierceHealthcare.

The price hikes affected both brand names and generics and mostly hit in the first week in January, when manufacturers typically raise prices, the report said. What the researchers noted was not typical was the large number of drug products affected by the hikes.

Geography matters

The study found that drug prices – while increasing across the board – were notably higher in large cities. For example, drugs cost nearly 17% more than the national average in New York City and 14% more than the average in San Francisco. Meanwhile, cities like Atlanta and Houston were spending 20% below the national average.

The reason for this geographic disparity in drug pricing could be cost of living – most goods tend to cost more in cities with higher costs of living. Researchers note that these cities also tend to have more high-cost pharmacies and fewer low-cost alternatives.

To learn more about the GoodRx study, read the complete article.

Hospital drug spend also rises

Much concern is focused on how rising drug prices affect individual consumers. However, hospitals and health systems are also feeling the strain in 2019. In the beginning of the year, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) released a report titled, “Recent Trends in Hospital Drug Spending and Manufacturer Shortages.” It showed a 18.5% increase in average total drug spend per admission between FY2015 and FY2017.

Additionally, the report found:

  • Inpatient drug spending increased 9.6%
  • Outpatient drug spending increased 28.7%
  • Hospitals experienced price increases in excess of 80% across different drug classes, including anesthetics, parenteral solutions, opioid agonists, and chemotherapy
  • Payers couldn’t keep up with the costs, as hospital expenditures exceeded the Medicare reimbursement rate five-fold during the study period

To learn more, download the complete study.

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