Pharma companies increase prices on popular drugs

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Following a summer lull and a politically charged election season, pharma companies have resumed their price increases with many surpassing economists' estimates for consumer inflation this year, a Wall Street Journal report said this week.
Pfizer began 2005 by raising the price on most of its U.S. medicines by nearly 5 percent, including a reported increase of 5 percent on its top-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor. Sales of Lipitor rose 23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004.
The average wholesale price of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Pravachol went up 5.9 percent and the cost of Mobic, co-marketed by Boehringer Ingelheim and Abbott Laboratories, rose 7 percent and 11 percent on 7.5 and 15 milligram doses in January respectively, according to data from Medi-Span's PriceAlert.
Of the 50 biggest selling medicines in the industry, 31 had price increases since the November elections through Jan. 19, according to price tracking firm Delta Marketing Dynamics.
Prices have risen in part to make up for huge sales losses or impending patent expiration and also in advance of the Medicare drug benefit slated to begin next January.
Companies are raising prices on weakening products and top sellers, according to recent data. In addition to raising prices on Lipitor and painkiller Celebrex, which is not expected to maintain the soar in sales it saw last quarter after a study established its links to heart risk, Pfizer also raised prices on its epilepsy drug Neurontin. Since Jan. 1, 2004, the average wholesale cost of Neurontin has increased 11.7 percent on a compounded basis. In the same period, Celebrex's cost has risen 10.3 percent on a compounded basis.
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