Retail prices surged 401% since 2009 for the brand name drugs treating skin conditions, shows research published in an online medical journal JAMA Dermatology.
That compares with an overall rate of inflation of only 11% during that 6-year period.
Of the 19 drugs analyzed that were all brand name in this study, price hikes were the most extreme for two of the drugs that Valeant Pharmaceutical manufactures. The company was subpoenaed by prosecutors for its documents that are tied to pricing and practices.
The pharmaceutical company is also being investigated by a number of members of the U.S. Congress. The company based in Canada acquired smaller developers of drugs and then increased the prices of medicines they sold.
For example, the cost for a treatment for skin cancer known as Targretin gel has escalated over 18-fold since 2009 to a price of $30,320 for a tube of 60 grams.
The prices for another cream used to treat skin cancer made by Valeant known as Carac has also spiked 18-fold. A tube of 30 grams now costs $2,865.
However, the study has found that dramatic hikes in price are quite common across the industry. For example, the price for generic drugs for treating skin conditions has climbed by 279% from 2011 to 2014.
Health insurers are increasingly passing along those costs to the patients, as today’s health plans have options that are limited for coverage, noted the study.
The analysis that was conducted about the rise in prices of medicines for skin conditions did not identify special sources for the higher costs of drugs.
However, the expenses related to research, development and marketing for the drugs, as well as with the profit taking and a customer base that is dependent all appears to have been contributors to the increase as a whole in the prices of drugs.
A report that was published back in May found that over 576,000 Americans had spent a minimum of $50,000 for prescription drugs during 2014, which is a sum that is equivalent to the median household income in the U.S.
The number of patients paying above the $50,000 amount per year for prescription drugs has increased by 63% since 2013.