Ever-increasing complaints over the high price of medical treatments did little to stop drugmakers from raising prices again for 2020.
The price hikes picked up by Wall Street analysts were in the mid- to low single digits. The biggest increase from large drugmakers so far appears to come from Pfizer on its blockbuster vaccine Prevnar, up 7.3%, according to data compiled by Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat.
While some key drugs, like Merck’s top-selling cancer drug Keytruda, have yet to see higher prices, Raffat wrote in a client note that last year’s price increases didn’t occur until a few days into the new year. The moves to increase prices on drugs come as bipartisan efforts advance in Congress to curb the costs of prescription medicines.
The price of Bristol-Myers Squibb rival cancer medicine Opdivo rose 1.5% for 2020. Bristol has yet to set a new price on another costly cancer drug, Revlimid, which it acquired when the Celgene acquisition closed in November. Raffat said last year’s price increase for Revlimid occurred on Jan. 3.
Gilead Sciences increased prices by 4.8% on its top five HIV medicines, Biktarvy, Genvoya, Truvada, Odefsey and Descovy — similar to last year’s increases, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Tyler Van Buren. Truvada and Descovy are now priced the same ahead of a generic Truvada expected later this year, Van Buren said.
Gilead has been accused by Democratic lawmakers of delaying Descovy development and commercialization to maximize profits from Truvada ahead of a key patent expiration. Van Buren said Gilead’s price increases “appear reasonable” and similar to other large drugmakers’ 5% increases for the year. Gilead didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
Biogen raised prices 2%-6% on its medicines for multiple sclerosis, with most of the increases matching last year’s price hikes. “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond wrote. “We continue to see business as usual on this front, despite years now of intense political attention.”