Prices for more than 1,200 drugs rose faster than inflation: HHS report

From July 2021 to July 2022, costs for 1,216 medications surpassed the 8.5 percent inflation rate, and the average spike in prices was 31.6 percent, an HHS report found.

In the analysis, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation deemed a "significant price change" as treatments that are more than $20 per package and showed at least a 10 percent change or any price change among drugs that are more than $500 per package. 

Compared to increasing drug costs over the last seven years, the number of drugs with a bigger price tag peaked in January 2022 to 3,239 medications.

The top drugs by percentage price increases include two final infection medications that jumped more than 1,000 percent — from $2 per package to $24 and $28, respectively. Others on the list include a chronic heart failure drug that hiked 539.2 percent, a chronic kidney disease drug that rose 113.7 percent and a hypertension treatment that increased 106.5 percent. 

For cost differences, a leukemia treatment and a lymphomas medication both increased by $25,000. 

In conclusion, the researchers said the Inflation Reduction Act — which will take years to be fully implemented — "may slow the rate of price increases for drugs" because one of the legislation's provisions states that drugmakers can face tax penalties if the cost of their products rise faster than inflation rates. 

Some experts have warned that pharmaceutical companies can avoid this law by "product hopping" — a strategy in which a company discontinues a product before slightly changing it and selling it again. 

"Trying to reform the system is like playing three-dimensional chess," Robin Feldman, a pharmaceutical and intellectual property law expert at UC San Francisco, recently told NBC News. "Whatever move the government makes, companies will move on three different levels to try to get around it."

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