T

he parade of drug price hikes goes on.

The drug maker Gilead Sciences on Friday increased the list prices of six of its drugs. The prices of the antibiotic Cayston, the chest pain drug Ranexa, and the blood cancer drug Zydelig each went up by 10 percent.

Gilead raised the price of its hypertension drug Letairis and of its HIV regimens Complera and Stribild by 7 percent each. The HIV treatment hikes come on top of increases in the prices of both of those drugs just six months ago, by 7 and 5 percent, respectively.

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Gilead’s moves come amid ongoing uproar over the rising cost of medicines — and on the heels of a series of price hikes by other big drug companies.

Pfizer several weeks ago raised its US drug prices by an average of nearly 9 percent. And in recent months Mylan has raised prices by more than 20 percent on two dozen products, including several increases of more than 400 percent.

Gilead has already come under fire for the high cost of its wildly successful hepatitis C medications, which cure patients entirely in many cases. (It won regulatory approval for yet another hepatitis C drug this week.) One of the drugs on the market, Harvoni, has a list price of $94,500 for a full course of treatment. Gilead this week reached a deal with the state of Massachusetts to rebate some of the cost of its hep C treatments; other states may now put pressure on the company to offer them similar deals.

Gilead spokeswoman Amy Flood confirmed the latest price increases, which were first reported in a research note from the financial services firm Cowen and Company. She said the company continues to honor a price freeze on HIV medicines purchased by state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The company also continues to offer rebates and discounts that can bring down the list price of its drugs substantially.

Analysts at Cowen suggested the price hikes for the HIV medicines may be designed to push patients toward the company’s newer HIV regimens.

Drug companies often justify price hikes by pointing to the need to stay competitive and recoup the costs of researching drugs that don’t make it to market. To avoid a torrent of public criticism, some makers are raising prices only by modest amounts, but in some cases doing that multiple times a year.

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  • They need to shorten patents on these things dramatically, maybe find a system where the pens are short on maintenance drugs and longer on cures. I don’t buy the line that they need to make unlimited money to be motivated to find new drugs, any more then a CEO won’t work as hard for 200 million as he would for 300 million.

  • Due to the lack of choice brought about by the need for life saving medications, patent protections, and oligopolies, we need the government to negotiate prices with drug companies and to impose price controls on many costly drugs. Europe, Canada and many other countries control prices. Drug companies are harming the economy by overcharging people in the United States. They set drug prices so high on some infectious diseases that the diseases are not eliminated, but only fester. This further increases excessive profits.

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