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Drugmakers post new year price hikes on hundreds of products

Drugmakers boosted hundreds of medicines' prices by an average of 6.3% as of Jan. 1., The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an analysis from Rx Savings Solutions.

Rx Savings Solutions, which sells software to help employers and health plans choose the least expensive medicines, said the average price hike included increases on different doses for the same drug.

Allergan PLC's irritable bowel syndrome treatments Linzess and Viberzi, eye drops Restasis and Lumigan, hypertension drug Bystolic, birth control pill Lo Loestrin and pneumonia treatment Avycaz cost 9.5% more as of Jan. 1. The company said it raised the price of 51 products — nearly 10% for more than two dozen drugs — confirming the increases cited in the analysis, the Journal reported.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. boosted the prices of immuno-oncology drugs Opdivo and Yervoy 1.5%. The company also posted a 6% price increase for arthritis drug Orencia, blood cancer drug Sprycel and Eliquis, the blood thinner it partnered on with Pfizer Inc., which otherwise posted no new year price hikes.

Other companies that did not make any increase as of Jan. 1 were Enbrel maker Amgen Inc., Genvoya maker Gilead Sciences Inc., Revlimid maker Celgene Corp., Copaxone maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Epipen maker Mylan NV, Xifaxan maker Bausch Health Cos. Inc., and Xyrem maker Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc.

Merck & Co. Inc. did not post new year price hikes either, although it hiked the price of cancer immunotherapy Keytruda, its top-selling drug in 2018, by 1.5% in November 2018. The same month, Merck & Co. increased the prices of its vaccines Gardasil, ProQuad and Pneumovax by 6%. In December 2018, Merck & Co. also boosted the price of Lenvima, another cancer drug, by 3%.

Biogen Inc. posted a 6% price hike for Tecfidera, which constitutes 24% of its U.S. sales consensus for 2019. The company also increased the prices of Tysabri and Plegridy by 3.5% and 2%, respectively. Tecfidera, Tysabri and Plegridy are all used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Eli Lilly and Co. also boosted the prices of its diabetes medicines Jardiance and Tradjenta by 6%. The company posted a 2% price hike for lung cancer drug Alimta on Dec. 28, 2018. Most of Eli Lilly's major products, including diabetes treatment Trulicity, which constitutes 12% of its U.S. sales consensus for 2019, had no price hike as of Jan. 1.

President Donald Trump unveiled a plan to lower drug costs on May 11, 2018. A federal government shutdown over border wall funding has affected operations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.