New analysis shows hundreds of under-the-radar drug price increases

While summer isn’t officially over, it sure feels that way. That’s because the kiddos are back in school, which means less interruptions as we stare at charts and numbers and peck away at our keyboards.

We took advantage of this newly-acquired, uninterrupted time to update and study our Brand Drug Price Change Box Score visualization, with a specific focus on midyear price increases, which had gotten some negative press back in early July.

It turns out there initially wasn’t much to study. We updated the box score viz and found that in July and August, price increases were only announced on 18 brand-name drugs, while two drugs decreased in price.

So only 16 net price increases. That’s down from a net:

  • 53 price increases in Jul/Aug 2018

  • 209 price increases in Jul/Aug 2017

  • 353 price increases in Jul/Aug 2016

  • 548 price increases in Jul/Aug 2015

Of course, when we saw this our first reaction was 😁.

But that quickly was replaced by 🤨. We had a feeling we were missing something.

We were.

This report examines the limitations of our favorite publicly-available drug pricing benchmark, and how that benchmark can be improved to provide even better accountability to the drug supply chain.

Thanks to Shira Stein and Madison Alder at Bloomberg Law for featuring some of our data crunching and analysis in their recent piece on President Trump’s reactions to bad drug pricing news. Today’s report shows that while indeed, the amount of list price increases on brand-name drugs is going down compared to previous years, there needs to be a better system of public accounting of those price changes.