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Amid ongoing debate over the cost of prescription medicines, a new analysis finds that brand-name drugmakers increased their wholesale prices by 4.8% in the third quarter this year, up slightly from 4.2% a year earlier and 4.9% in the previous quarter. But when accounting for inflation, wholesale prices fell by 3.1%, and inflationary pressures are likely to push wholesale prices still higher.

At the same time, net prices that health plans paid for medicines — after subtracting rebates, discounts, and fees — dropped by 0.3%. But again, after considering inflation, net prices actually fell 8.2%, compared with 7.9% in this year’s second quarter. This was the largest quarterly decline in real terms seen by SSR Health, a research firm that tracks the pharmaceutical industry and conducted the new analysis.


Overall, 90% of medicines experienced declines in wholesale prices in real terms, up from 77% in the third quarter in 2021, although this was down from 94% in this year’s second quarter. Meanwhile, the so-called gross-to-net bubble — which measures the gap between gross sales at list prices and net prices after rebates – was 48.9%, up 1.9% from a year ago and the largest such increase seen by the analysts.

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