Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda Look to Hike Drug Prices This Month: Reuters

Drug pricing_iStock, Julia_Sudnitskaya

Pictured: Capsules and tablets scattered on top of dollar bills/iStock, Julia_Sudnitskaya

Several pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Sanofi and Takeda, are planning to increase the prices of hundreds of drugs in January 2024, according to Reuters citing data from healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors.

The price hike will affect more than 500 drugs and over 140 different brands, excluding various doses and formulations, according to a data analysis by 3 Axis Advisors. The new prices will take effect early this month.

Pfizer will raise the prices of 124 of its drugs and 22 products from its Hospira subsidiary, accounting for a quarter of all planned drug price increases in January. Takeda’s Baxalta trails the New York-based pharma, looking to increase the prices of 53 drugs. Belgium-based UCB Pharma will hike the prices of 40 different medicines.

Sanofi, which in March 2023 pledged to slash the list price of its top-selling insulin product Lantus (insulin glargine injection) by nearly 80%, is implementing a 9% price increase for each of its vaccines against typhoid fever, rabies and yellow fever.

These impending price hikes come amid the Biden administration’s efforts to rein in government and consumer spending on pharma products. The centerpiece of the campaign is the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, which empowers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to renegotiate the prices for some of the most widely prescribed treatments.

In August 2023, the CMS identified the first 10 drugs that would be subject to these negotiations, including BMS’ Eliquis (apixaban), Lilly’s Jardiance (empagliflozin) and J&J’s Xarelto (rivaroxaban). By October 2023, 10 pharma companies had agreed to participate in the talks, despite their staunch opposition to the negotiation program.

According to a CMS fact sheet released in September 2023, the agency will then have to make its initial offer for these 10 products—along with a “concise justification” for its maximum fair price—due Feb. 1, 2024. Negotiations are set to run until Aug. 1, 2024, with final prices published by Sept. 1, 2024. The new pricing scheme will take effect in 2026.

Beyond the IRA, the Biden administration has also recently been looking at its so-called “march-in rights,” which would allow the government to take back the patents of expensive drugs that use federally backed research.

The White House is not expected to promote the widespread and indiscriminate use of these rights. However, the administration will come up with guidelines to help the National Institutes of Health determine when it can reclaim patents from companies.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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