Study shows ‘opportunistic’ price increases of hospital drugs

The prices of 90 different drugs increased at double their normal rate once shortages occurred, a new study found—and the increases were even greater for those with three or fewer suppliers.

“Manufacturers see the mismatch between supply and demand and increase the price of the drug in an opportunistic manner,” lead study author Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD, told Bloomberg. The research team, including investigators from the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School, published its findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Hernandez and colleagues analyzed prices of 617 dosages and formulations of 90 different drugs that experienced shortages from December 2015 to December 2016. Prices rose an average of 16 percent in the 11 months following the shortages, compared to 7.3 percent in the previous 11 months. When three or fewer suppliers controlled a drug during a period of scarcity, prices jumped by 27.4 percent over the next 11 months, versus 12.1 percent in the prior 11 months.     

More than two-thirds of the medicines analyzed were drugs administered in the hospital, where drug shortages are becoming more common, according to Bloomberg.

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