If your outrage over drug prices lasts longer than four hours, please consult your local DSA branch.
Photo: Christopher Furlong (Getty Images)

So much for President Donald Trump’s guarantee of “massive” drops in drug prices in the near future. On Monday, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced a slew of price increases for many of its best-selling brand name drugs, including Viagra, the Financial Times first reported. Amazingly enough, it’s the second time Pfizer has increased some of its drugs’ prices this year.

According to the Financial Times, Pfizer has raised the price of 100 products under its umbrella. The increases—effective as of July 1—are in the neighborhood of nine percent from their previous list prices. But coupled with the price raises set by Pfizer earlier this year, many drugs have seen an nearly 20 percent jump. Viagra’s list price was $73.85 per 100mg pill in January, but is now $88.45, for instance.

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Viagra’s continuous price rise is particularly noteworthy, given that two generic versions of the drug were officially released this April (experts in the field often argue that generic drug competition will lower prices). In an pristine example of double-dipping, Pfizer actually owns one of the two companies who manufacture the generic version. The brand-name drug made $1.4 billion in sales last year, according to Drugwatch.

In late May, Trump declared that several unnamed big drug companies were going to “announce voluntary massive drops in prices” within weeks and that for “the first time ever in this country, there will be a major drop in the cost of prescription drugs.” The White House released a lengthy plan of government actions meant to tackle rising prices that same month, but few, if any, of the approaches laid out actually regulate drug pricing, instead leaving it to the market to sort out. Trump also infamously reneged on his campaign promise to grant public payers such as Medicare the ability to directly negotiate with drug companies to bring prices down.

Pfizer is seemingly looking to get out ahead of the backlash (and inadvertent advertising for the necessity of a single-payer system) that often comes with price increases. In a statement to FT, the company noted that increases were only happening across 10 percent of its total product line, that prices were dropping for some of its products (five), and that list prices aren’t necessarily reflective of the out-of-pocket costs customers or insurers will actually pay for their drugs, thanks to discount and rebate programs.

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Given that out-of-pocket costs are also steadily rising for insured people and Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs often even aren’t covered by insurance, though, it’s likely that many will feel a hard impact from these increases.

Other drugs included in Pfizer’s cash grab include the smoking cessation aid Chantix. And other companies such as Accorda Therapeutics, Acella Pharmaceuticals, and Intercept announced price increases this month as well.

[Financial Times]

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