By the Blouin News Science & Health staff

Big pharma price hikes: greed or research?

by in Medicine.

(Source: Charles Williams/flickr)

(Source: Charles Williams/flickr)

A Reuters study on the top 10 drugs in the U.S. confirms what many had suspected: Turing Pharmaceuticals’ CEO Martin Shkreli’s shocking hike of Daraprim last year was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of big pharma greed.

The analysis found that prices for four of the nation’s top 10 drugs have increased more than 100% since 2011, and six others went up more than 50%. And IMS Health data reports that sales for the top 10 drugs went up 44% to $54 million in 2014, from 2011, even though prescriptions for the medications dropped 22%. Reuters found that AbbVie Inc raised the price of arthritis drug Humira more than 126%, Amgen Inc and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd raised prices for arthritis treatment Enbrel and multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone by 118%.

When Turing raised the price for Daraprim 5000% last year, setting off a firestorm and resulting in a Congressional investigation, more eyes turned to the pharmaceutical industry’s corrupt price hikes. It had long been suspected that med prices were disproportionate to their prescription, especially following the news in early March that found that unused cancer drugs waste $3 billion a year.

Reuters notes that drug companies have responded to inquiries about their prices hikes, and have said they “set prices to recoup investments in failed drugs, support new research and development efforts, and pay for clinical trials to broaden the use of approved drugs.” Sounds like a pretty good cover-up for what others might simply call greed.