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California’s new transparency law shows staggering rise in wholesale drug prices


(Los Angeles Times) – Drugmakers fought hard against California’s groundbreaking drug price transparency law, passed in 2017. Now, state health officials have released their first report on the price hikes those drug companies sought to shield.

Pharmaceutical companies raised the “wholesale acquisition cost” of their drugs — the list price for wholesalers without discounts or rebates — by a median of 25.8% from 2017 through the first quarter of 2019, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. (The median is the point at which half the prices are higher and half are lower.)

Generic drugs saw the largest median increase, 37.6%, during that time. By comparison, the annual inflation rate during the period was 2%.

Several drugs stood out for far higher price increases:

  • The cost of a generic liquid version of Prozac rose from $9 to $69 in just the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 667%.
  • Guanfacine, a generic medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, on the market since 2010, rose more than 200% in the first quarter of 2019, to $87 for 100 2-milligram pills.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which makes Guanfacine, cited “manufacturing costs” and “market conditions” as reasons for the price hike.

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