Prices for four of top 10 drugs double over past five years

Prices for four of the most widely-used specialty drugs in the United States more than doubled over the past five years, Reuters reported.

The wire service analyzed proprietary data for the top 10 most widely used drugs. AbbVie raised the price of arthritis drug Humira more than 126 percent since 2011; Amgen raised the price of its arthritis drug Enbrel by 118 percent; as did Teva Pharmaceutical for its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.

Six other drugs on the list had price increases of more than 90 percent.

Those increases don't even include insulin, one of the most widely used drugs in the U.S. and abundantly available for decades. Insulin prices have nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, according to STAT.

Drug price increases and shortages have been a challenge to hospitals as of late, forcing many of them to come up with creative ways to cope with the current climate. Some providers have also come under fire for what has been seen as vexed ethical choices as to which patients should receive specific medications.

The change in insulin pricing has raised concern in the medical community, particularly as the number of diabetes cases in the U.S. have risen dramatically in recent years.

"Insulin is a life-saving medication," William Herman, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told STAT. "There are people with type 1 diabetes who will die without insulin. And while there have been incremental benefits in insulin products, prices have been rising. So there are people who can't afford them. It's a real problem."

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article 
- check out the STAT article

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