USA Today reports:
Drug companies are quietly pushing through price hikes of 100% — or even more than 1,000% — for a very small but growing number of prescription drugs, helping to drive up costs for insurers, patients and government programs.
The number of brand-name drugs with increases of 100% or more could double this year from four years ago, researchers from the University of Minnesota say. Many of the drugs are older products that treat fairly rare, but often serious or even life-threatening, conditions.
"There's no simple explanation," says Stephen Schondelmeyer, director of the PRIME Institute at the University of Minnesota, which studies drug industry economics. "Some companies seem to figure no one is watching so they can get away with it."
The price increases are drawing legal and political scrutiny:
• In a decision awaiting approval by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, drugmaker Abbott agreed last week to pay up to $27.5 million to settle a lawsuit over a 400% price increase on its HIV/AIDS drug Norvir. The price did not change.
• Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the Government Accountability Office last week to investigate large price hikes. Klobuchar asked the Federal Trade Commission in April to investigate Ovation Pharmaceuticals, which raised prices on four drugs in 2006 by up to 3,437%.