BREAKING: Brand-Name Drugs Increasing at 10X Cost of Inflation, McCaskill Report Finds

Report details that older Americans continue to get price gouged by pharmaceutical industry on widely-prescribed brand-name drugs; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Minority shows that while prescriptions for top brand-name drugs dropped by 48 million, revenue increased by $8.5 billion over the last five years

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today released a report as part of her years-long effort to investigate dramatic prescription drug price increases, showing that the prices of many of the most popular brand-name drugs increased at nearly ten times the cost of inflation from 2012 to 2017.

“Can you imagine if you went to an auto dealership and last year’s exact model was being sold at a 20 percent mark-up, and then you went back the next year and it had happened again?” McCaskill said. “That’s exactly what’s happening in the prescription drug industry, where the cost of identical drugs skyrockets year after year. Everywhere I go Missourians are angry and upset about these price increases. This report demonstrates that the pricing decisions made by these drug companies are outrageous—and I’ve never shied away from taking on this massive industry on Missourians’ behalf.”

The report looked at overall price increases amongst the top 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors, and comes as rising drug prices represent an increasingly serious cost driver for all Americans. This increased spending is also trickling down to Medicare beneficiaries. According to one independent study, Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs is expected to increase from 41 percent of per capita Social Security income in 2013 to 50 percent in 2030.  

The report’s key findings include:

  • Prices increased for every brand-name drug of the top 20 most-prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors in the last five years. On average, prices for these drugs increased 12 percent every year for the last five years—approximately ten times higher than the average annual rate of inflation.
  • Twelve out of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors had their prices increased by over 50 percent in the five-year period. Six of the 20 had prices increases of over 100 percent. In one case, the weighted average wholesale acquisition cost for a single drug increased by 477 percent over a five-year period. 
  • Although 48 million fewer prescriptions were written for the top 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors between 2012 and 2017, total sales revenue resulting from these prescriptions increased by almost $8.5 billion during the same period.

READ THE REPORT: Manufactured Crisis: How Devastating Drug Price Increases Are Harming America’s Seniors

McCaskill has made tackling rising healthcare and prescription drug costs a top priority in the Senate. During McCaskill’s time as the top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, she joined Republican Committee Chairman Susan Collins to launch an in-depth investigation into prescription drug price increases. McCaskill recently introduced legislation to end taxpayer subsidies pharmaceutical companies receive for the billions of dollars they spend on prescription drug advertising each year, which currently is fully tax-deductible. Additionally, McCaskill’s bipartisan legislation to increase competition for generic drugs and help lower prescription costs was signed into law by President Trump. McCaskill also recently introduced legislation with Senator Collins to prohibit “pharmacy gag clauses” that lead to consumers needlessly overpaying for prescription drugs. 

Last month, healthcare and emergency room costs in Missouri and across the country were the focus of a roundtable discussion with McCaskill, ER doctors, patient advocates, and community health workers in Kansas City. 

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