HealthDay News — Although there is no correlation for changes in out-of-pocket spending with changes in list or net drug prices overall, for patients who pay deductibles or coinsurance, out-of-pocket spending increases when list drug prices increase, according to a study published online May 4 in JAMA Network Open.

Benjamin N. Rome, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined whether price changes for brand-name drugs are associated with changes in patient out-of-pocket spending in a cohort study of 79 brand-name drugs with pricing data available from January 2015 to December 2017.

The researchers found that from 2015 to 2017, the median increases were 16.7 percent for list prices, 5.4 percent for net prices, and 3.5 percent for out-of-pocket spending. There was a correlation noted for changes in list prices with changes in net prices. Overall, no correlation was seen for changes in out-of-pocket spending with changes in list prices or net prices. Median out-of-pocket spending increased by 15.0 percent among the 53.7 percent of patients who paid any drug deductible or coinsurance; changes correlated moderately with changes in list prices but not net prices.

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“The exorbitant and unregulated prices set by drug manufacturers affect how much patients pay,” Rome said in a statement. “Pharmaceutical companies often argue that the high list prices for their medicines are not important, but we found that many patients are responsible for coinsurance or deductibles, which exposes them to the annual price hikes that are common practice by many pharmaceutical companies.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical insurance industry, and one author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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