Infusion drug makers target massive price hikes on US patients

FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist holds a box of Lantus SoloStar, made by Sanofi Pharmaceutical, at a pharmacy in Provo
FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist holds a box of Lantus SoloStar, manufactured by Sanofi Pharmaceutical, at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S. January 9, 2020. REUTERS / George Frey / File Photo

December 10, 2021

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Drugmakers have been targeting the U.S. market for outsized profits from older drugs, according to a report released on Friday by the House Oversight Committee stating Eli Lilly and Co, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, the companies that control the insulin market.

The employee report also credits Pfizer Inc’s marketing and pricing tactics that have helped it earn billions of dollars from the currently unpatented painkiller Lyrica.

The report comes after a nearly three-year investigation that uncovered assertions by the pharmaceutical industry that high drug prices are needed to fund innovation and research and development programs. .

The Commission’s investigation also found that companies spend a significant portion of their R&D expenditures on research aimed at expanding oligopolistic markets, supporting companies’ marketing strategies and prevent competition,” the report said.

The report, which focuses on 12 drugs made by 10 companies, says Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi own about 90% of the market for life-sustaining insulin, which was invented in the 1920s.

Medicare, the US government’s health insurance program for people 65 and older and people with disabilities, may have saved more than $16.7 billion between 2011 and 2017 on insulin purchases if it is allowed to negotiate discounts with pharmaceutical companies, the report shows.

“Pharmaceutical companies have been raising prices relentlessly for decades while manipulating the patent system and other laws to delay competition from lower-priced drugs,” said Commission Chair Carolyn Maloney. stated in the report.

“These companies have specifically targeted the US market for higher prices, even while reducing prices in other countries, because of weaknesses in their healthcare systems,” she added. We have allowed them to get rid of the overpriced rates.

High prices have come at a human cost. More than 40% of insulin-dependent patients surveyed said they had allotted their medication in the previous year, the Colorado attorney general’s office said in a 2020 report.

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which has passed the House and will be put before the Senate this year, includes a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug manufacturers, though only for a small amount of medicine.

The report also shows that some pharmaceutical companies engage in what they call a “product jump,” making minor tweaks to formulas to obtain new patents and then transferring patients to a new trial. newer, more expensive versions. There are bills before Congress to ban the sale of products.

Among the best-selling insulin products, Eli Lilly has increased the price of Humalog by 1,219% per vial since launch, Novo Nordisk has increased the price of NovoLog 627% since launch, and Sanofi has increased the price of Lantus by 715%, the report found. .

The report also found that Pfizer targeted the US market with higher prices for its blockbuster Lyrica product, as well as using product hopping to prevent patients from switching to generic versions of the drug, cheaper.

The report states that Lyrica’s price has increased 420% since it was approved in 2004. It had sales of about $2 billion in 2019.

The report also shows price increases of 825% for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Copaxone, 486% for Amgen’s Enbrel, 395% for Novartis’ decades-old Gleevec, over 100,000% for Mallinckrodt’s Acthar, 471 % for AbbVie’s Humira and 82% for its Imbruvica, and 255% for Celgene’s Revlimid, now owned by Bristol Myers Squibb.

Most of the drugs mentioned in the report are more than a decade old.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bill Berkrot) Infusion drug makers target massive price hikes on US patients

Bobby Allyn

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