Hike in Drug List Prices Has Downstream Effect on Patient, Payer Costs

Even though drug manufacturer discounts and rebates have been rising, when wholesale list prices for prescription drugs more than doubled over a period of seven years, that still triggered large increases in patient out-of-pocket costs and insurer payments, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open. The researchers analyzed pharmacy claims for five patent-protected specialty drugs and nine brand-name drugs associated with the highest total expenditures by commercial insurers in 2014 and found that their average wholesale price (AWP) increased by 129% from 2010 to 2016. Median insurer expenditures on the 14 drugs analyzed grew 64%, while median patient out-of-pocket costs went up 53% during that time.

NOTE: All results have been adjusted to 2016 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

SOURCE: “Changes in Drug List Prices and Amounts Paid by Patients and Insurers,” JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(12):e2028510.

Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong produces infographics and data stories on health insurance and specialty pharmacy for AIS Health. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting. Before joining AIS in 2018, she worked at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese.

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