Lawmakers Investigating Generic Drug Price Increases
A pair of lawmakers has launched a congressional investigation into dramatic price increases on some generic drugs, but GPhA dismisses the scrutiny as being so narrowly focused that it misses the overall savings from the industry as a whole.
Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent an Oct. 2 letter to 14 generics makers requesting information on product revenues, sales expenses and price setting for 10 drugs that experienced significant price hikes in the past 14 months.
Drugmakers receiving the letters were Actavis, Apotex, Dr. Reddy’s, Endo, Global, Heritage, Lannett, Marathon, Mylan, Par, Sun, Teva, West-Ward and Zydus.
The lawmakers requested drugmakers defend pricing on products identified in a recent survey that found wholesale prices on some drugs jumped by hundreds or even thousands of percent between March 2013 and May 2014.
According to data provided to the lawmakers by the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA), the average cost of a 500-tablet bottle of 100 mg antibiotic doxycycline hyclate skyrocketed 8,281 percent, from $20 to $1,849. The smallest price hike reported during the study period was a 420 percent jump in the cost of a 100-tablet bottle of 20-25 mg hypertension drug benazepril/hydrochlorothiazide, from $34 to $149.
Despite the dramatic price increases documented, GPhA insists that the data cited by Sanders and Cummings misses the most important point when it comes to generics pricing.
“Their data is missing one crucial element: perspective,” GPhA President and CEO Ralph Neas said in a statement. The drugs cited are just 10 among more than 12,000 generic medicines that GPhA says currently are available on the market. Despite the price increases of these products, “many current studies show that this simply does not reflect the larger reality.”
In particular, Neas points to a 2013 study published in Drug Channels that found a 3 percent decrease in the median price of generic drugs from November 2012 to November 2013. However, he did not directly address the price increases cited by the two lawmakers.
Letter recipients were given until Oct. 23 to turn in the requested data. — Bryan Koenig
Originally appeared in Drug Industry Daily, the pharmaceutical industry’s number one source for regulatory news and information. Click here for more information.