Drug manufacturers are targeting large price increases for American patients, the congressional report finds

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (Reuters) – Pharmaceutical manufacturers have targeted the U.S. market to make big profits on old drugs, according to a report released Friday by the House Oversight Committee highlighting Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N), Novo Nordisk ( NOVOb) .CO) and Sanofi (SASY.PA), which dominate the insulin market.

The staff report also noted pricing and marketing tactics from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) that helped it make billions of dollars on its now off-patented pain medicine Lyrica.

The report, which was published after a nearly three-year investigation, accepted claims from the pharmaceutical industry that high drug prices were necessary to fund innovation and research and development programs.

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“The committee’s survey also found that companies dedicated a significant proportion of their R & D expenditure to research aimed at expanding market monopolies, supporting companies’ marketing strategies and suppressing competition,” the report said.

The report, which focused on 12 drugs made by 10 companies, said that Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi own around 90% of the market for life-sustaining insulin, which was invented in the 1920s.

A Lilly spokeswoman said the company is offering discounts to make insulin affordable. A spokesman for Sanofi said that the price of insulin product Lantus had fallen nearly 45% since 2012. Novo Nordisk had no immediate comment.

Medicare, the U.S. government’s health insurance program for those 65 and older and disabled, could have saved more than $ 16.7 billion from 2011 to 2017 on insulin purchases if it had been allowed to negotiate discounts with drug companies, the report found.

“We found that drug companies target U.S. patients for price increases, largely because Medicare has a ban on negotiating lower prices. At the same time, drug companies maintained or cut prices for the rest of the world,” committee chair Carolyn Maloney said at a news conference Friday.

The high prices have had human costs. More than 40% of the examined insulin-dependent patients said they rationed their medicines last year, found Colorado District Attorney’s office in a report from 2020.


President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, which passed the House and was due to come before the Senate this year, includes a provision that allows Medicare to negotiate with drug manufacturers, but only for a small number of drugs. read more

The report also found that some pharmaceutical companies engage in what they call “product hopping”, a practice of making small adjustments to formulations to obtain a new patent and then switching patients to the newer, more expensive version. There are bills before Congress to ban product hopping. read more

Among best-selling insulin products, Eli Lilly has raised the price of Humalog by 1,219% per vial since its launch, Novo Nordisk has increased the price of NovoLog by 627% since its launch and Sanofi has raised the price of Lantus by 715%, the report shows.

The report also found that Pfizer targeted the US market for higher prices for its blockbuster film Lyrica, in addition to using product hopping to prevent patients from switching to cheaper, generic versions of the drug.

Lyric price had gone up 420% since it was approved in 2004, the report said. The turnover of around 2 billion dollars in 2019.

Pfizer had no immediate comment.

The report also listed price increases of 825% for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA) Copaxone, 486% for Amgens (AMGN.O) Enbrel, 395% for Novartis (NOVN.S) decades old Gleevec, more than 100,000% for Mallinckrodts Acthar, 471% for AbbVies (ABBV.N) Humira and 82% for Imbruvica, and 255% for Celgenes Revlimid, now owned by Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY.N).

Most of the drugs mentioned in the report are over ten years old.

Novartis said it invested over 18% of its global revenue in R & D. Mallinckrodt and Bristol Myers did not immediately comment. Amgen, AbbVie and Teva did not respond to requests for comment.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington; Edited by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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