Drugmakers have sharply boosted prices of some older, low-cost prescription medicines amid supply shortages and recalls—in some cases, by threefold and more.
At least three sellers of a widely used blood-pressure medication, valsartan, have raised prices since a series of safety-related recalls of the drug by other manufacturers began in the summer of 2018.
Virtus Pharmaceuticals in May jacked up the U.S. price of a bottle of a muscle relaxant that has been in short supply, methocarbamol, by 1,137% to $105. It was the biggest percentage price increase for a prescription medicine in 2018, according to a new analysis of pricing data.
Of the nearly 120 drugs listed by the Food and Drug Administration as currently or recently in shortage, about one-third had price increases after the shortages started, according to a Wall Street Journal review of pricing data provided by RELX Group’s Elsevier health-information unit. Virtus didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The increases can mean higher costs for pharmacies and patients on what are generally cheaper generic drugs. Drugmakers say the price hikes reflect higher costs they have incurred to help fill supply voids that have become relatively common in recent years.
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