879% drug price hike is one of 3,400 in 2019 so far; rate of hikes increasing

Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 11, 2018: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R) announced a ‘blueprint’ for lowering the cost of prescription medication with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House. (credit: Getty | Chip Somodevilla)

Pharmaceutical companies raised the prices of more than 3,400 drugs in the first half of 2019, surpassing the number of drug hikes they imposed during the same period last year, according to an analysis first reported by NBC News.

The average price increase per drug was 10.5%, a rate around five times that of inflation. About 40 of the drugs saw triple-digit increases. That includes a generic version of the antidepressant Prozac, which saw a price increase of 879%.

The surge in price hikes comes amid ongoing public and political pressure to drag down the sky-rocketing price of drugs and healthcare costs overall. In May of 2018, President Trump boldly announced that drug companies would unveil “voluntary massive drops in prices” within weeks. But no such drops were ever announced. Trump then went on to publicly shame Pfizer for continuing to raise drug prices. The company responded with a short-lived pause on drug price increases mid-way through last year, but it resumed increasing prices in January—as did dozens of other pharmaceutical companies.

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