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More than two dozen big buyers of prescription medicines expect that prices will rise by an average of 7% annually over the next three years, a slight uptick from a year ago. And 38% believe that a “substantial portion” or three quarters, of the anticipated increases can be attributed to a shift to higher-priced, newer therapies, up sharply from 13% a year ago, according to a new survey.

Interestingly, projections for price hikes over the next three years are actually flat on a weighted average basis, which represents a reversal in a decades-long trend. But there is a caveat. This change is driven primarily by just one respondent — a very large purchaser that is effectively an outlier.


“Clearly, there is some uncertainty,” wrote Cowen analysts, who queried 26 hospitals, pharmacy benefit managers, and health maintenance organizations that purchased more than $52 billion in medicines in 2018, or more than one-fifth of U.S. retail drug purchases.

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