Cummings and Sanders Investigate Staggering Price Increases for Generic Drugs

Oct 2, 2014
Press Release
Letters to 14 Manufacturers Seek Information on Recent Price Hikes

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Bernard Sanders, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, sent letters to 14 drug manufacturers requesting information about the escalating prices they have been charging for generic drugs.

Cummings and Sanders are investigating price increases for drugs used to treat everything from common medical conditions to life-threatening illnesses and to identify measures to help reduce costs for patients, healthcare providers, and hospitals across the country.

“When you see how much the prices of these drugs have increased just over the past year, it’s staggering, and we want to know why,” said Cummings. “I am very pleased that Chairman Sanders has joined me in this bicameral investigation because in some cases these outrageous price hikes are preventing patients from getting the drugs they need.”

“It is unacceptable that Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Sanders said. “Generic drugs were meant to help make medications affordable for the millions of Americans who rely on prescriptions to manage their health needs. We’ve got to get to the bottom of these enormous price increases.”

In their letters, Cummings and Sanders cited data from the Healthcare Supply Chain Association on recent purchases of 10 generic drugs by group purchasing organizations over the past two years.  For example:

  • Albuterol Sulfate, used to treat asthma and other lung conditions, increased 4,014% for a bottle of 100 2 mg tablets.
  • Doxycycline Hyclate, an antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections, increased 8,281% for a bottle of 500 100 mg tablets.
  • Glycopyrrolate, used to prevent irregular heartbeats during surgery, increased 2,728% for a box of 10 0.2 mg/mL, 20 mL vials.

Click here for a table of price increases for the ten drugs examined.

The Members also explained that these dramatic price increases result in decreased access for patients and increased costs to American taxpayers.

A survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association found that “77% of pharmacists reported 26 or more instances over the past six months of a large upswing in a generic drug’s acquisition price,” and pharmacists also reported that patients are “declining their medication due to increased co-pays.”

According to a report by the IMS Institute for Health Informatics, generic drugs now account for 29 percent of pharmaceutical spending and 86 percent of drugs dispensed in the United States.

The Members requested that the companies provide information from 2012 to the present, including total gross revenues from sales of the drugs, prices paid for the drugs, factors that contributed to decisions to increase prices, and the identity of company officials responsible for setting drug prices.

Letters to the 14 drug manufactures are linked below:

113th Congress