Cost of HIV drugs has surged by 35% since 2012 as Big Pharma cashes in on yearly price hikes
The cost of HIV medications in the US has surged by 35 percent since 2012, a new study finds.
What’s more, the price hikes have exceeded that rise in inflation by 3.5-fold, according to research from Massachusetts General Hospital.
Poverty was identified as a leading risk factor for HIV by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010, meaning that people with low incomes are at greater risk for the condition, and less likely to be able to afford drugs to suppress it.
Getting more people treatment for HIV means less risk of transmission and better chances to meet the Trump administration’s goal of all but ending HIV in the US by 2030 – but the new study’s authors suggest it will require more financial support.
Addressing the cost of insurance and health care – including drugs – was a top priority for former President Barack Obama while he was in office.
Lowering drug prices and fighting Big Pharma companies were chief among President Donald Trump’s campaign promises in 2016.
Still, health care and medication pricing remain hot button topics in the debates and platforms of candidates running in the 2020 presidential election.
It’s not just for people who have HIV for whom drugs are a costly burden.
Some 3,400 drugs saw prices boosted by 17 percent during the first six month of 2019, compared to the previous year.
On average, prices increased by 10.5 percent during that period, outpacing inflation by five-fold.
HIV drugs – specifically, antiretroviral regimens, used to suppress the virus to levels that diminish symptoms and decrease the chances of passing the disease on – cost between $24,970 and $35,160 on average in 2012, according to the new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
By 2018, prices had increased to a range between $36,080 and $48,000.
As new drugs have become available, prices for some have gone down, meaning that, on average, the first drug regimen prescribed to someone being newly-treated for HIV was cheaper than overall average regimen price.
But that’s increased too, at an even faster rate.
Average prices for a newly-initiated antiretroviral treatments spiked by 53 percent between 2012 and 2018, 5.6 times faster than inflation rose.
‘The United States has the highest antiretroviral treatment (ART) prices yet the lowest rate of HIV viral suppression (54 percent) compared with all other well-resourced countries, including Britain, Australia, and Canada,’ the study authors wrote.
‘High ART costs are among many structural barriers that lead to poor treatment access and adherence, contributing to suboptimal HIV outcomes in the United States.’
Antiretrovirals are currently the fifth most expensive class of drugs in the US and, in 2018, $22.5 billion was spent on the medications.
President Trump wants to reduce the number of new annual diagnoses by 90 percent in this new decade.
That will require a 33 percent increase in the number of people whose infections are currently virally suppress, which the new study’s authors will cost about $35.6 billion in spending on the drugs alone.
‘Slowing the trend of rapidly increasing ART costs is essential to expand and sustain access to effective individualized care and treatment for (people with HIV) and to meet “End the HIV Epidemic” goals.’