NY Times: Humira’s Best-Selling Drug Formula: Start at a High Price. Go Higher.
Humira is the best-selling prescription drug in the world…The price of Humira, an anti-inflammatory drug dispensed in an injectable pen, has risen from about $19,000 a year in 2012, to more than $38,000 today, per patient, after rebates, according to SSR Health, a research firm. That’s an increase of 100 percent…
How much you actually pay out of pocket, and whether you can afford Humira at all, depend on your insurance and eligibility for discounts…
Humira, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of AbbVie’s $25.6 billion in revenue in 2016, was not simple to develop. It is among a new class of drugs known as biologics, which are made from living cells rather than synthetic chemicals…
Looking at the international picture tells its own story about drug costs. A prefilled carton with two syringes costs $2,669 in the United States, compared with $1,362 in Britain, $822 in Switzerland and $552 in South Africa…
An analysis by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review found that Humira’s list price would need to be discounted by at least 55 percent to be cost effective for rheumatoid arthritis, its originally approved use.
Dr. Steven D. Pearson, the founder of the institute, which provides cost benefit data to health plans, said competing drugs were overpriced as well.
“Even in a space like this, where there is a lot of competition, we don’t see the prices coming down,” he said. “That speaks to the fact that it doesn’t often function like a free market usually would.”..
AbbVie joined a few of its rivals in saying it would limit price increases to single digits this year, and so only raised Humira by another 9.7 percent this month, roughly four and a half times the inflation rate. For the drug industry, that counts as generosity.
My take: Humira is a very important and effective medication, particularly for inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. I infer from this article which compares the Humira pricing strategy to that used by Martin Shkreli that if U.S. consumers are to have more affordable pharmaceuticals, government intervention will be needed. AbbVie, like many other pharmaceutical companies, will continue to aggressively price Humira; after all, 8 billion in profits is not as good as 10 billion.
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