IF ONE concern unites Americans, it is the high prices of prescription drugs. One incident in particular tarnished much of the pharma industry: in 2015 the price of an antiparasitic drug, Daraprim, jumped from $13.50 to $750 per pill. But large price increases remain stubbornly commonplace (see chart). According to IQVIA, a health-data firm, the wholesale prices of leading drugs such as Humira, Enbrel and Lyrica increased by more than 120% between 2012 and 2017. Other data show that cancer-drug prices rose from about $10,000 to over $100,000 per year in just over a decade to 2012. Further ahead, a new generation of cures, such as a gene therapy for haemophilia, may cost more than $1m.
President Donald Trump, never one to avoid stoking a grievance, has waded in, accusing the pharma industry of “getting away with murder”. This week, as The Economist went to press, he was scheduled to deliver a speech outlining a strategy to lower prescription-drug prices. Whatever he says, though,...Continue reading