Last year unjustified price increases for nine drugs cost US healthcare $1.67 billion, Humira accounted for $1.4 billion

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According to this year’s report, last year the US health system spent an extra $1.67 billion on price increases for nine drugs that were not supported by clinical evidence. Humira led this year’s list at $1.4 billion, accounting for 84% of US unjustified drug price increases in 2020. Humira aside, the more modest price increases on this latest list reflect overall reductions in net drug price increases in the US market. The cost of unjustified drug price increases was down significantly in both 2020 and 2019 from 2018’s level at $5.1 billion.

The Unsupported Price Increase report is published annually by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. ICER is an independent nonprofit think tank, and the US leader in fair, value-based pricing for drugs and other healthcare services.

ICER examined the top ten drugs with the largest US total sales and with a price increases at least 2% over the rate of general inflation in 2020, plus two other drugs based on public input. ICER then assessed each of the twelve drugs for “new evidence of a substantial improvement in net health benefit” that could justify the price increases. Three of the ten had good, new clinical evidence to support the price increase. ICER did not comment on whether the new evidence was sufficient to justify the amount of the price increase. ICER estimated the extra cost to the US health system in 2020 for the price increases of each of the other nine drugs.

Drug2019-20202018 – 20192017 – 2018
 Resulting increase in US drug spending (in millions)
Lupron Depot$30  
Enbrel $403 
Invega Sustenna/Trinza $203 
Orencia $145 
Tecfidera $118$313
Vimpat $58 
Rituxan  $806
Lyrica  $688
Truvada  $550
Neulasta  $489
Cialis  $403

The Build Back Better Act, now being debated in Congress, would cap future drug price increases for Medicare and private commercials plans if passed.