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Pfizer raised 100 US drug prices 1 January

Published on 12/01/16 at 09:48am

Drugs giant Pfizer raised the prices of more than 100 of its drugs in the US on 1 January,  in some cases by as much as 20 percent, according to research by global services company Wolters Kluwer.

Reuters said the company confirmed a 12.9% increase in the price of Viagra, which had US sales worth $1.1 billion in 2014; a 9.4% increase for Lyrica, which made $2.3 billion in the US in 2014; and a 5% increase for the new breast cancer drug Ibrance, launched last year and initially costing $9,850 per month, or $118,200 per year.

Pfizer was also said to have slapped 20% price increases on the anticonvulsant Dilantin, hormone therapy Menest, angina drug Nitrostat, irregular heartbeat treatment Tykosyn and the antibiotic Tygacil. In total, 105 drugs saw price increases in the New Year and no reductions were reported.

Pfizer spokespeople could not immediately confirm the additional price increases, which were compiled by Wolters Kluwer Health and published in a research note by UBS Securities, but the company responded in an emailed statement, suggesting that pharmaceutical products are a worthwhile expense, and noting that few end-users would pay the full price.

"Medicines are among the most effective and efficient use of private and public health care dollars," Pfizer said. "It is important to note that the list price does not reflect the considerable discounts offered to the government, managed care organisations, and commercial health plans and certain programs that restrict any increases above the inflation rate."

Despite this, pharma companies are increasingly coming under the spotlight in the US in presidential election year, with politicians and commentators suggesting patients are being priced out of the market as rapid list price increases lead health insurers to raise prices to compensate for their own increased expenditure.

Although Pfizer is by no means the only company to hike prices for the New Year, the company has been particularly scrutinised in its largest market as a result of its planned ‘tax inversion’ with Allergan. The companies announced a $160 billion merger in November, with Pfizer planning to move its tax domicile to Ireland, to take advantage of lower rates. The company is expected to reduce its tax bill from around 25% to about 17%.

Pfizer is due to report full-year financial results for 2015 2 February. The company posted total US drug sales of $17.2 billion in 2014 and said in Q3 2015 that it expected total global revenues for 2015 of $47.5 to $48.5 billion.

Joel Levy

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