March 03, 2022

Wyden, Colleagues Call Out Drug Manufacturers For Squeezing American Families With Rapid and Widespread Price Hikes on Prescription Drugs

 Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden joined colleagues today in expressing concern over findings from two new analyses that reveal troubling, widespread, and rapid price increases for brand name drugs in January 2022. 

“The large, across-the-board price increases of popular, brand name prescription drugs appear to be an example of pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of their abusive market power to expand already-large profits. And the coordinated and timely price increases ring of political opportunism,” Wyden and lawmakers wrote in a letter to the CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

The average price increase of more than 5% for all brand name drugs in January 2022 was almost twice as high as overall inflation for medical care services for all of 2021, and the average price increase of nearly 4% for the 20 top-selling Medicare Part D drugs was almost 1.5 times as high. The price increases for the top 20 Medicare Part D drugs, if also reflected in total expenditures, would increase costs for consumers and taxpayers by an estimated $2.5 billion. 

One of the analyses by the University of Minnesota PRIME Institute found that drug manufacturers increased prices for 72% of all formulations of the 100 top-selling drugs in January 2022, with a 5.1% average price increase for brand name drug products. A separate analysis provided by Johns Hopkins University researchers revealed that manufacturers increased prices for 16 of the top-selling 20 Medicare Part D drugs in January 2022, by an average of 3.9%. Some drug prices skyrocketed. 

“These evaluations suggest rapid price hikes affecting the vast majority of popular brand name drugs, particularly those used by seniors and people with disabilities in the Medicare program. These analyses reveal that drug manufacturers are using their market power to impose extraordinary price increases, which also have the effect of driving up general inflation,” Wyden and lawmakers continued. “This behavior by drug manufacturers – which will drive up their already-exorbitant profits at the expense of middle-class families in need of medical care – demands an explanation.”

The letter was led by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Alongside Wyden, the letter was joined by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

The full text of the letter is here.