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Now Is Not the Time to Price Gouge, Big Pharma

Public Citizen Calls on the Top 20 Pharmaceutical Corporations to Commit Not to Raise Prices


WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cost many Americans their jobs and health insurance, Big Pharma should commit not to increase the price of any medications, Public Citizen said today in letters to 20 major prescription drug corporations.

Three in 10 Americans already were rationing their medicine due to cost before the pandemic, according to a recent poll. Despite that, Big Pharma has dramatically increased the list price of medicines over the past several years. For example, between 2016 and 2018:

  • AbbVie increased the price of Humira, the highest grossing medicine in the world, by 19.1%;
  • Pfizer increased the price of Lyrica, an epilepsy treatment, by 28.3%; and
  • Johnson & Johnson increased the price of Imbruvica, used in cancer treatment, by 19%.

Big Pharma typically announces medicine price increases twice a year, in January and July. In January, corporations raised the prices of 524 medicines.

“Price increases on old medicines contribute nothing to innovation, but they do contribute to treatment rationing and people’s suffering,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “Freezing price spikes for the duration of the pandemic is the least pharma can do. These corporations should exercise some basic discipline so as not to make the problem worse.”

Public Citizen sent the letters to Pfizer, Roche, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Sanofi, AbbVie, GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, Gilead Sciences, Bristol Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Bayer, Novo Nordisk, Takeda, Boehringer Ingelheim, Allergan, Teva and Mylan.

Read the letters here.