Pharma's routine January price hikes are here once again—and not even a global pandemic seems to be slowing the number of increases. Amid ongoing scrutiny from politicians and the public, though, the level of many of the price hikes seems muted compared with previous years.
As of Sunday, drug companies large and small had raised prices on nearly 600 medicines by an average of 4.2%, GoodRx reports.
Pfizer's hikes comprise a significant portion of the list: The company raised prices on more than 130 products to start the year, ranging from a 0.22% jump for antiarrhythmic medicine Norpace CR to a 5.14% increase for pneumococcal shot Prevnar 13, the world's bestselling vaccine.
Allergan, acquired last year by AbbVie, raised prices on more than 30 medicines by 5%. It also raised prices on several other drugs by low-single-digit percentages. Bausch Healthcare implemented 39 price hikes ranging from 3.43% to 7.9% as well.
Bristol Myers Squibb, meanwhile, raised prices on 11 medicines; its highest hike was a 6% boost for blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, a drug it shares with Pfizer.
And fellow Big Pharma GlaxoSmithKline lifted prices for 31 medicines and vaccines. Some of GSK's price increases for vaccines came in above 5%, such as a 7% increase for shingles shot Shingrix and an 8.59% increase for combination diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine Pediarix.
AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Gilead Sciences and Bayer, for their parts, each raised prices on more than 10 medicines by low-single-digit percentages. But while several manufacturers kept their price hikes to low- or mid-single-digit percentages in 2021, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries raised prices on 16 medicines by more than 9%, GoodRx reports.
The largest price hike so far this year comes from Vifor. The company raised its price on Venofer by 14.58%.
In all, GoodRx had tracked 589 list price increases at an average of 4.2% as of Sunday. That price-hike tally is far higher than it's been at the same time in recent years; 2020 saw prices raised on 463 drugs by Jan. 3, while 2019 saw increases on just 295 meds as of that date.
And the 2021 figure will likely keep growing. Last year, drug companies raised prices on an additional 156 products throughout the course of January after the initial 463, bringing the final count to 619 for the month. January 2019 brought a total of 601 hikes at an average of 5.8%, while January 2018 saw 729 increases on branded drugs by an average of 7.7%, according to GoodRx.
The latest round of increases comes in the final days of President Donald Trump's term. Over the last several months, Trump has been pushing to enact lasting changes to drug prices through a series of executive orders, but his controversial "most favored nations" clause—which seeks to tie prices in Medicare to lower prices overseas—was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in late December. Over the past several years, the Trump administration has seen limited success at taking on the pharmaceutical industry's routine price increases.