The search for profit by companies is what “drives up the price of drugs and nothing more.”
As per Dennis Bourdette, M.D., chair of neurology at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine, who co-authored a paper published on Monday seeking to find out the rationale for companies to increase prices for multiple sclerosis patients on medicines.
For the past decade, prices for these drugs, an accompanying press release notes, have jumped from 10% to 15% each year.
The report by a research team at OHSU as well as the OHSU / Oregon State University College of Pharmacy, published in this month’s Neurology journal, was based on reports with four active and retired pharmaceutical industry executives directly involved in pricing or marketing MS drugs.
One executive interviewed for the study tried to point out that when it comes to price hikes, the U.S. is a global outlier. He said “it is only in the United States, really, that you can take price increases. You can’t do it in the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, prices decline with duration in the marketplace.”
Managing or reducing prices will give the drug a negative image, one executive said. “We can’t come in at less,” they stated. “That would mean we’re less effective, we think less of our product, so we have to go more.”
The responses speak volumes, said Bourdette, who also directs the OHSU Center for Multiple Sclerosis.
“The frank information provided by these executives pulls back the curtain of secrecy on how drug price decisions are made,” he said.
Whilst the recent study focused on MS medications, the problem of rising prices is becoming more common. As the Center for Economic and Political Research’s economist Dean Baker reported last year: “The government gives drug companies patent monopolies that make it illegal for competitors to sell the same drug. These patent monopolies allow companies to charge prices that are a hundred or even a thousand times the free market price.”
As well as the case that drug makers depend on price rises to drive their growth is backed by other recent research.