The median annual price of 13 new drugs approved this year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for chronic conditions is $257,000, according to a new analysis from Reuters. Additionally, seven other recently launched drugs are priced at more than $200,000 per year. By comparison, the median annual price for the first 30 drugs marketed through mid-July 2021 was $180,000, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association study.
“In the U.S. we allow drug manufacturers to freely set prices for all brand-name drugs,” Aaron Kesselheim, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, tells Reuters.
The launches come “even as Congress moves to cut the $500 billion-plus annual bill for prescription drugs in the United States,” the news agency reports. “At the same time, some pharmaceutical manufacturers are disclosing less information about the pricing of those treatments, which have come under greater scrutiny in recent years.”
Pharmaceutical companies have responded to the price increases by citing that the new drugs treat rare diseases for which there are no therapies, as well as cut down on emergency room visits and hospital stays, according to Reuters. Drug makers also note they are not responsible for what patients ultimately pay for their prescriptions.
“Each person’s individual [health] insurer and plan will determine the out-of-pocket costs,” Eli Lilly & Co says, responding to a question from Reuters about Mounjaro, its new diabetes drug with an annual price of $12,700.
As evidence that drug makers are releasing fewer pricing details, Reuters notes that six of the manufacturers it contacted for its analysis “either did not respond to a request for price details or initially provided only partial information, such as a ‘per vial’ cost, rather than an annual cost based on average patient use, as they had in the past. Sanofi says its new drug Enjaymo, used to treat a rare type of anemia, was priced at $1,800 per vial. When pressed further, the French health care group clarified that the typical annual price is $280,800.”
Other companies, such as Immunocore, Dermavant Sciences, and Bristol Myers Squibb only disclosed prices “per vial,” “per tube,” or “per infusion,” respectively, for its new high-priced drugs. Reuters adds that “all three eventually provided annual prices.”