Multiple blockbusters from Gilead, Pfizer, Vertex see (list) price hikes to start 2022
Kicking off 2022, hundreds of pharmaceuticals, including some blockbusters, saw their list prices rise by about 5% on average. But overall, net drug prices (cost after rebates) declined for the fourth year in a row, potentially complicating already stalled drug price reform efforts.
Among the drugs seeing new increases as of Jan. 1 are Gilead’s bevy of blockbuster HIV drugs.
Biktarvy, which pulled in more than $7 billion in worldwide sales in 2020, saw a 4.8% price increase in 2021, and now, another 5.6% increase in 2022, according to a new report from the nonprofit 46brooklyn Research.
Gilead offered the same 5.6% price hikes for its other HIV drugs: Descovy, which saw sales of more than $1.8 billion in 2020; Genvoya, which brought in more than $3 billion in 2020; and Odefsey, which had $1.7 billion in 2020 sales.
Pfizer, which is set to reap tens of billions, possibly even hundreds of billions, from its Covid-19 vaccine and pill this year and next year, also hiked the price of its blockbuster cancer drug Ibrance by 6.9% to start this year. Other Pfizer medicines, including several antibiotics and a form of chemo, saw their prices increase by 10% to start the year, according to GoodRx.
Meanwhile, Vertex increased the price of its blockbuster CF drug Trikafta by 4.9% in 2022. That might not seem like a big spike in the grand scheme of things, but the drug’s list price is currently set at $311,000 per year, so that’s a more than $15,000 per patient, per year increase.
ICER previously estimated that Vertex would need to lower the list price of Trikafta to between $67,900 and $85,500 per year in order to bring the cost in line with its benefits.
Analyses of the hundreds of price increases across the spectrum have to be taken into context, and 46brooklyn says that at first look, the degree of price increases in 2022 appears to be “relatively greater than the 2021 behavior.”
And ever since the informal 9.9% price hike ceiling was enacted across pharma and biotech companies, change in net prices overall continues to decline in 2022, after three straight years of net price declines, according to Adam Fein, CEO of the Drug Channels Institute.
“Obviously the devil’s in the details,” Antonio Ciaccia of 46brooklyn told Endpoints News.
Some brand drugs that have lost exclusivity have much higher rebates than true brand drugs. Additionally, with launch prices being a greater emphasis point, it distorts the conversation around rebate vs list growth over time. And lastly, since PBMs, insurers, and these newer rebate GPOs aren’t obligated to pass through all those drugmaker concessions, even if net prices are going down, that would be purely from the view of the drugmaker, and the actual payer may be hearing that net prices are going down and wondering, “huh?”
The news of the price increases comes as Congress is still trying to forge a deal around a reconciliation bill that might include drug pricing provisions. Just before the holiday break, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) halted progress on a deal that would’ve allowed Medicare to negotiate on drug prices. among other provisions.