The JAMA Dermatology has just published a summary of the trend in prescription prices from 2009 to 2015. The news is not good. Overall the brand-name prescriptions increased in price FOUR FOLD during this period.
Four national chain pharmacies in the West Palm Beach, Florida, area—specifically, Costco, CVS, Sam’s Club, and Walgreens—were initially surveyed in 2009. Similar surveys were completed in 2011, 2014, and 2015 by the same 4 pharmacy locations initially surveyed in 2009.
Between 2009 and 2015, prices of all surveyed classes of brand-name drugs increased; the mean increase was 401%
Dermatology Prescription Prices
The mean price across the 4 surveyed national pharmacy chains (Costco, CVS, Sam’s Club, and Walgreens) of
- Retin-A Micro, 0.1%, and
- Tazorac cream, 0.1%,
in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015. The prices of these drugs more than doubled; the price of Retin-A Micro more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2015.
Most Expensive in the world
Prescription drugs generally cost more in the United States than anywhere else in the world.
Medicare legally cannot negotiate drug prices for beneficiaries, unlike government health programs in other countries such as France and Australia.
We did not detect any specific trend to explain the significant increase in the costs of dermatologic prescription drugs, nor did we investigate reasons for the price increases.
Pharmaceutical companies charge as much as they can. This is the simple answer to this question – economics. There a few barriers to charge more each year.
Oracea and Finacea Prices
Prices of the surveyed acne and rosacea medications—Benzaclin; Finacea; Oracea; Retin-A Micro, 0.1%; and Tazorac cream, 0.1%—increased a mean of 195% between 2009 and 2015, although the price of Retin-A Micro, 0.1%, increased approximately 5-fold in the same period
|Drug||2009||2011||2014||2015||Absolute Change||% Change|
|Finacea, 50gm||$124.42||$185.42||$288.92||$284.30||$159.88||128.51 %|
|Oracea, 40mg x 30||$439.01||$416.09||$632.8-||$702.46||$263.45||60.01 %|
Can Only Be Bad News
Even if you have full pharmaceutical insurance, this rapid increase in the cost of prescriptions can only be bad news. Insured patients may feel shielded from the cost when you actually fill a prescription, but all insurance policies and thus premiums will be hit to cover these incredible increases.
Lets not in anyway forget how this trend affects those without insurance – treatments beyond affordable 6 years ago are now stratospherically unaffordable.
Although only Finacea and Oracea were studied, one could expect Metrogel, Mirvaso and Soolantra to follow the same trend.
Rosacea Treatments are Unaffordable
So here we have firm published documentation showing just how unaffordable 2 of the mainstream rosacea medications have become.
JAMA Dermatol. 2015 Nov 25:1-6., Rosenberg ME, Rosenberg SP
Physicians from many specialties as well as primary care prescribe dermatologic medications; as insurance formularies become increasingly restrictive and more patients are covered with high-deductible insurance plans, many patients are forced to pay high retail prices to obtain their medications.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the changes in the prices of commonly prescribed dermatologic medications since 2009 and to identify trends in price increases for different classes of drugs.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Four national chain pharmacies received surveys requesting price data on commonly prescribed dermatologic drugs in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015. The initial survey requested information on 72 brand-name drugs. Subsequent surveys increased to eventually include 120 additional brand-name drugs and their generic alternatives when available. Owing to the frequency of prescription, diseases treated, or unusual price increases, 19 brand-name drugs surveyed in all 4 years were selected for final price trend analysis, which was conducted from August 1 to 15, 2015.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Retail prices of topical and systemic drugs for the treatment of various dermatologic conditions.
RESULTS: Prices of surveyed brand-name drugs increased rapidly between 2009 and 2015. Of the 19 brand-name drugs analyzed, the retail prices of 7 drugs more than quadrupled during the study period. Among these 19 drugs, the mean price increase was 401% during the 6-year survey period, with the majority of the price increases occurring after 2011.
Prices of topical antineoplastic drugs had the greatest mean absolute and percentage increase ($10 926.58 [1240%]). Prices of drugs in the antiinfective class had the smallest mean absolute increase ($333.99); prices of psoriasis medications had the smallest mean percentage increase (180%).
Prices of acne and rosacea medications increased a mean of 195%, and prices of topical corticosteroids increased a mean of 290% during the study period. Selected generic drugs surveyed in 2011 and 2014 also increased a mean of 279% during the 3-year period.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The price of prescription dermatologic drugs rose considerably from 2009 to 2015, with the vast majority of price increases occurring after 2011.
Percent increases for multiple, frequently prescribed medications greatly outpaced inflation, national health expenditure growth, and increases in reimbursements for physician services.
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