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US price group to analyze unsupported changes in prescription drug pricing

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review will conduct an annual analysis of prescription drug price increases to determine whether those increases are supported by new evidence.

ICER will examine significant prescription drug price increases to determine whether the price change is supported by new clinical evidence. The U.S. pricing watchdog is collecting public feedback on the form of the first report, slated for release in October, which will become an annual publication.

"Drug prices are often increased substantially over time in the U.S., and questions are frequently raised regarding whether these price increases are justified," said ICER's Chief Medical Officer David Rind. "By identifying drugs with substantial price increases despite no new evidence of added benefit, we hope to make an important first step in providing policymakers with information they can use to advance the public debate on drug price increases."

ICER itself does not have the authority to compel drugmakers to lower their prices, but the watchdog has become more and more influential in recent years. Some pharmaceutical companies have responded to pricing reports conducted by ICER by lowering prices.

The draft protocol did not specify which drugs or companies the review might target, beyond stating that 13 prescription drugs that had seen the most significant price increases in the U.S. over the past 24 months will be profiled. This analysis will be based on the net price increases that resulted in the largest budget impact on the U.S. health system, ICER said.

As the plan for the report is formalized, ICER intends to seek guidance from patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies and payers representing both Medicaid and the private market. The review will cover changes in the evidence base for the 13 drugs and whether or not new clinical evidence has been brought forward that suggests the drugs are more beneficial to patients than previously understood.

ICER's new report adds to the pressure facing drugmakers to justify or otherwise explain their price changes, an issue that has already been front and center for policymakers and legislators in 2019. A dozen major pharmaceutical companies have been called before Congress to testify in a series of hearings on the issue of drug pricing beginning at the end of January.

Public feedback on the new report will be collected until Feb. 13.