AbbVie's Humira, 5 Pfizer drugs among those with price hikes that exceeded inflation rate

Pfizer is the runaway winner of the United States’ first Who Can Raise Prices Higher Than the Rate of Inflation contest.

Among 27 medicines whose price hikes exceeded the rate of inflation in the fourth quarter of 2022, Pfizer had five, which was three more than any other company. The list was released by the White House on Wednesday.

Also included was AbbVie’s megablockbuster Humira, Johnson & Johnson’s recently approved lung cancer therapy Rybrevant and Gilead’s high-profile CAR-T treatments Tecartus and Yescarta.

The quarterly release is the first of its kind following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes a provision to penalize companies who raise prices on Medicare Part B medicines faster than the rate of inflation. Companies who fail to pay the mandated rebates will be docked 125% of the amount of the fine, due in 2025, according to the release.

The penalties are intended to help offset patient costs. Starting on the first of April, Medicare beneficiaries who use the listed drugs may see a decrease in out-of-pocket costs of between $2 and $390 per dose, the White House said. 

Citing a report by the Department of Health and Human Services—which found that prices of 1,200 prescription drugs rose faster than the rate of inflation in 2021—the White House said the goal of the fines is to rein in “excessive drug price hikes year-over-year.”

Pfizer’s five therapies whose price increases exceeded inflation were antithrombotic Fragmin, chemotherapy drug Nipent, blood product Atgam and penicillins Bicillin C-R and Bicillin L-A.

Also on the list is Seagen’s cancer treatment Padcev. Earlier this week, Pfizer announced a $43 billion deal to purchase the Seattle biotech.

Other companies with two drugs on the list are Endo, with testosterone injection Aveed and Peyronie’s disease drug Xiaflex; Leadiant, with fungal infection treatment Abelcet and carnitine deficiency therapy Carnitor; and J&J, whose Castleman disease drug Sylvant is on the list along with Rybrevant.

The HHS also released a report that showed if the IRA had been in effect in 2021, that 3.4 million people with Medicare would have saved $234 million in out-of-pocket costs, which came to an average of $70 per beneficiary.