Not even COVID-19 can cause drug prices to go down: report

Drug prices
A new GoodRx report examines the impact of COVID-19 on drug prices. (Getty/Charles Wollertz)

Not even the coronavirus pandemic—and the economic losses that have accompanied it—could lower drug prices, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at GoodRx, which offers discounts and coupons on prescriptions, found drug prices have only declined by 0.6% since February, according to data provided exclusively to Fierce Healthcare. In addition, drugmakers are expected to increase prices on July 1.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 has had an impact on prices in a number of other product lines over the past several months, according to the report. For example, prices for transportation fell by 33% between February and May, and prices for clothing and telephone services were also down.

Tori Marsh, a member of GoodRx’s research team, told Fierce Healthcare that prescription drug prices remain high compared to other goods and services despite COVID-19.

“It's not looking like manufacturers are going to halt their price increases as a result of the pandemic,” she said.

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Marsh said part of the trend is that demand for prescription drugs under the pandemic has been far less volatile than in some of the other industries tracked in the report. While there’s significantly less interest in airline tickets, for example, people are still largely filling their prescriptions.

Also, the demand and need for high-price specialty therapies haven’t declined as part of the pandemic, either, she said.

Drug prices have increased dramatically compared to prices for other products, irrespective of COVID-19, according to the report. Prices have increased by 33% since 2014, far outpacing price hikes for any other commodity or service.

Marsh said findings like this highlight the need for consumers to spend more time shopping around for prescriptions like they would for other products.

“Why are we not shopping around for our prescription drugs?” she said.