New Drug Launch Prices Increasing Exponentially Each Year

THURSDAY, June 9, 2022 — Launch prices for new drugs increased exponentially by 20 percent per year from 2008 to 2021, according to a research letter published in the June 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Benjamin N. Rome, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues identified 548 drugs newly marketed from 2008 to 2021 within SSR Health and estimated net prices after manufacturer discounts for more than 1,230 brand-name products.

The researchers found that median launch prices increased from $2,115 per year in 2008 to $180,007 per year in 2021. There was an increase from 9 to 47 percent for the proportion of drugs priced at ≥$150,000 per year. There was an exponential 20.4 percent per-year increase in unadjusted mean launch prices. For 395 drugs (72 percent), estimated net prices (after manufacturer discounts among non-Medicaid payers) were a median of 14 percent lower than the wholesale acquisition cost in 2008 and 24 percent lower in 2020. There was an increase in net prices from a median of $1,376 in 2008 to $159,042 in 2021. Mean net prices increased exponentially by 13.4 percent per year when adjusting for drug characteristics.

“The trend in prices for new drugs outpaces growth in prices for other health care services,” the authors write.

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