Exclusive: Drugmakers to hike prices for 2021 as pandemic, political pressure put revenues at risk

Drugmakers including Pfizer Inc, Sanofi SA, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc plan to raise U.S. prices on more than 300 drugs in the United States on Jan. 1, according to drugmakers and data analyzed by healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors. The hikes come as drugmakers are reeling from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced doctor visits and demand for some drugs.

They are also fighting new drug price cutting rules from the Trump administration, which would reduce the industry’s profitability. The companies kept their price increases at 10% or below, and the largest drug companies to raise prices so far, Pfizer and Sanofi, kept nearly all of their increases 5% or less, 3 Axis said. 3 Axis is a consulting firm that works with pharmacists groups, health plans and foundation on drug pricing and supply chain issues. GSK did raise prices on two vaccines – shingles vaccine Shingrix and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine Pediarix – by 7% and 8.6%, respectively, 3 Axis said.

Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc hiked prices on 15 drugs, including Austedo, which treats rare neurological disorders, and asthma steroid Qvar, which together grossed more than $650 million in sales in 2019 and saw price hikes of between 5% and 6%. Teva hiked prices for some drugs, including muscle relaxant Amrix and narcolepsy treatment Nuvigil, as much as 9.4%.

More price hikes are expected to be announced on Friday and CONTINUED in early January.

In 2020, drugmakers raised prices on more than 860 drugs by around 5 percent, on average, according to 3 Axis. Drug price increases have slowed substantially since 2015, both in terms of the size of the hikes and the number of drugs affected.

The increases come as pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer are playing hero by developing vaccines for COVID-19 in record time. The hikes could help make up for lost revenue as doctors visits and new prescriptions plummeted during the global lockdown.

Pfizer plans to raise prices on more than 60 drugs by between 0.5 % and 5%. Those include roughly 5% increases on some of its top sellers like rheumatoid arthritis treatment Xeljanz and cancer drugs Ibrance and Inlyta.

Pfizer said it had adjusted the list prices of its drugs by around 1.3% across all products in its portfolio, in line with inflation.

“This modest increase is necessary to support investments that allow us to continue to discover new medicines and deliver those breakthroughs to the patients who need them,” spokeswoman Amy Rose said in a statement, pointing in particular to the COVID-19 vaccine the company developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE.

It said that its net prices, which back out rebates to pharmacy benefit managers and other discounts, have actually fallen for the last 3 years.

France’s Sanofi plans to increase prices on a number of vaccines 5 percent or less and will announce more price increases later in January, spokesperson Ashleigh Koss said.

None of the company’s price increases will be above the expected growth rate of U.S. health spending of 5.1 percent, she said.

Slashing U.S. prescription drug prices – which are among the highest in the world – was a focus of U.S. President Donald Trump, after making it a core pledge of his 2016 campaign. He issued several executive orders in late 2020 meant to cut prices, but their impact could be limited by legal challenges and other problems.

A federal judge earlier this month blocked a last-minute Trump administration rule aimed at lowering drug prices that was set to be implemented at the beginning of the year. It was challenged by drug industry groups including PhRMA, the nation’s leading pharmaceutical trade group.

President-elect Biden has also vowed to reduce drug costs and to allow Medicare, a U.S. government health insurance program, to negotiate drug prices. He has support from Congressional Democrats to pass such legislation, which the Congressional Budget Office has said could cost the industry more than $300 billion by 2029.

Covid 19 Vaccination Now a Condition of Employment for Some Senior Living Operators

Some senior living operators are moving to make a COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment to more quickly mitigate the effect of the virus in their communities. Atria Senior Living CEO John A. Moore on Monday called the company’s decision to make the vaccine a mandatory condition of employment “the responsible thing to do in light of the threat posed by COVID-19 and the hope the vaccine holds in eliminating that threat to our residents and staff, as well as society at large.” All U.S. employees of Atria are being required to take both doses of the vaccine by May 1. Distribution of the vaccines in Canada and the pace of the rollout will affect the timing there. The company recently rolled out a “Sleeve Up Atria” campaign to educate employees and residents about the vaccines. Atria operates independent living, assisted living, supportive living and memory care communities in more than 185 locations in 26 states and seven Canadian provinces. The company has more than 11,000 employees 

Life or death

Bloomfield, NJ-based Juniper Communities, which operates 22 communities in three states, also is making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment. Juniper Communities founder and CEO Lynne Katzmann, Ph.D., told McKnight’s Senior Living, it wasn’t an easy decision but called vaccination “the quickest route to health, and health is the quickest route to re-engaging with our community.”

“I’m giving people back the ability to hug their family members, to be physically engaged, to get back to the life — or get to a new life — that fits the way they want to live,” she said.

Juniper Communities has approximately 1,500 employees. Of the communities that have held vaccine clinics so far, Katzmann said that roughly 98% of employees were vaccinated and close to 100% of residents were vaccinated. A small number of workers have waivers for health reasons, she said, indicating that they will have to don a different type of personal protective equipment to carry out their duties.

Juniper rolled out an extensive employee education campaign that included phone messages, email blasts, blog posts, webinars and personal discussions about the process, potential side effects and the vaccine process, Katzmann said.

“At the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather have a vaccination that’s been well-tested and proven not to have any negative side effects than get COVID?” she said. “It’s vaccination or COVID, life or death.”

Even after vaccination, Katzmann said employees and residents will continue to mask, social distance and undergo testing twice a week for the foreseeable future

Community Care Rx Acquires Orphan Pharmacy Services

HEMPSTEAD, NY, June xx, 2020 – Community Care Rx, which for 25 years has serviced the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, has acquired Orphan Pharmacy Services, LLC.  The deal closed on June 31, 2020.  The acquisition allows CCRx to support pharmaceutical and telehealth services in all 50 states, thereby expanding its national footprint in the pharmaceutical industry. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Orphan Pharmacy Services to CCRx, as we believe the synergies of each organization will serve our clients well and allow us to contribute to improved therapeutic outcomes nationwide,” said Hossam Maksoud, PharmD, CEO of Community Care Rx, which provides pharmaceutical services to a wide range of facilities, including nursing homes and group homes. “By bringing together two great teams of dedicated professionals, we look forward to providing great service to individuals and institutions throughout the country.”

 

Orphan Pharmacy Services (OPS), based in Syosset, NY, is licensed to support telehealth services in every state.  It has a robust purchasing, contracting and operations business model in place, which will be an asset to CCRx as it grows its telehealth services nationwide.

 

“On behalf of Orphan Pharmacy Services, I would like to commend Hossam Maksoud and CCRx for its high-level customer service and the excellent reputation it has earned in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Al Lopez, Supervising Pharmacist, Orphan Pharmacy Services.  “We look forward to growing together with a focus on quality, integrity and the highest degree of safety and care for those we serve.”

OPS specializes in supplying ophthalmology, neurology, hematology and oncology medications and has access to medication therapies at all stages of development for patients with life-threatening orphan diseases.

 

 

 

About Community Care Rx (CCRx):

Community Care Rx, Inc. is a unique Long-Term Care pharmacy, qualified to provide comprehensive pharmacy services (including IV services, DME and Specialty Pharmacy) to various types of organizations. There is no other pharmacy that can match our combination of experience and dedication to creating a personalized experience per facility by creating a custom-tailored program based on needs. CCRX has had over 25 years of experience. Our ability to take on large pieces of business in an organized manner with no disruption to our clients and the patients they serve has been clearly documented. CCRX provides Pharmacy Services to many facilities. Our breadth and depth of experience is unmatched in the institutional pharmacy arena.

 

About Orphan Pharmacy Services:

Orphan Pharmacy Services is a purpose-built specialty pharmacy accessing medication therapies at all stages of development for our patients with life threatening orphan diseases. It partners with patients and their families, clinical researchers, hospital pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies developing life-saving therapies. In our partnerships with pharmaceutical companies with near to market therapies, we transition quickly and efficiently from providing research pharmacy services to providing commercial specialty pharmacy services, always with our sharp focus on patient safety and continuity of care.