Beyond EpiPens, Drug Prices Generally Falling

NEW YORK, Sept. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The controversy over the recent increase of Mylan’s EpiPen belies a larger trend in pharmaceuticals – that the industry doesn’t grow as fast as it had in past decades and most products are decreasing in price, according to Kalorama Information.  Mylan has attracted criticism for a large price increase on its EpiPen product, coinciding with the start of the school year.  However, Kalorama said that the overall price market has not only not grown, but it has declined 1 percent to $645 billion to $639 between 2011 and 2015.  The firm does expect better growth rates over the next ten years as new biologicals are introduced.   The firm made its finding in its report The Top 25 Pharmaceutical Companies Pipeline Analysis and Sales Projections to 2025.

“In general the Top 25 have declined in sales with few exceptions,” said Melissa Elder, analyst for Kalorama Information. “Pricing is a major contributor to the declines as is the development of generics.  It is becoming increasingly competitive in the space and few companies are keeping up with innovation to offset eroding sales from current products.”

Pfizer, Novartis, Merck, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and Astra are among the top 10 companies which are showing declines over the last 5 year spread.  – Roche, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Amgen, Bayer, Novo Nordisk and Allergan are among those doing better, according to Kalorama’s report.

Mylan acquired EpiPen from Merck KgAA, a German firm not connected to Merck.  When they did,  a pack of two EpiPens listed at $124. By the end of 2012, that price had risen to $241. After a Sanofi competitor withdrew from the market, the price was increased and now nears $600.  This, timed with the beginning of the school season, has the drug maker answering tough questions from the media, consumer groups and Congress.

Since 2011, Mylan has averaged 11.3% growth, according to Kalorama Information.  Mylan’s specialty sales have shown growth, increasing from $585 million in 2011 to $1.2 billion for 2015, an increase of nearly 20%.  This compared to the 10.1% increase in the generic segment, $5.5 billion in 2011 to $8.2 billion in 2015.

“In general this kind of large price increase is not common in pharmaceuticals, but there are a few exceptions,” said Elder.  “Mylan being one with its EpiPen and products in the areas of HIV and Cancer have been scrutinized for price increases.  Mylan has reported sales from its EpiPen at a fraction of the retail revenues so there are some other forced at play here.”