Drug Prices Increase More Than Expected After Shortages

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Prices for drugs under shortage increase more than twice as quickly as expected in the absence of a shortage.
Prices for drugs under shortage increase more than twice as quickly as expected in the absence of a shortage.

HealthDay News — Prices for drugs under shortage increase more than twice as quickly as expected in the absence of a shortage, according to a research letter published online Sept. 18 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Inmaculada Hernandez, Pharm.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues identified 917 drugs that had an active shortage between December 2015 and December 2016. Data on wholesale acquisition costs were included for 617 National Drug Code numbers for 90 drug products.

The researchers observed increases of 7.3 and 16.0 percent in the prices of all drugs in the 11 months before and after the shortage began, respectively. Prices of drugs supplied by three or fewer manufacturers increased by 12.1 and 27.4 percent, respectively, while those supplied by more than three manufacturers increased by 2.5 and 4.8 percent, respectively. The expected price increase for all drugs was 20 percent in the 11 months after the shortage began, compared with 9 percent in the absence of a shortage. The expected price increases under shortages were 13 and 8 percent higher than in the absence of a shortage for drugs supplied by three or fewer or more than three manufacturers, respectively.

"Prescription drug shortages are a public health crisis that requires attention from policymakers, who our data show should be particularly concerned about the prices charged by remaining suppliers," the authors write.

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