Here's how much faster drug prices are rising compared to other healthcare services

Drug prices are rising at a rate that outpaces other healthcare services, a new analysis from GoodRx shows.

Provided exclusively to Fierce Healthcare, the analysis finds that drug prices have increased by 33% since 2014. The next biggest cost increase was for inpatient care, at 30%.

Across the board, prices for medical services have risen 17% since 2014, according to the report.

GoodRx compared rising drug prices to other industries, such as transportation, clothing and telecommunications, earlier this year. Tori Marsh, director of research at GoodRx, told Fierce Healthcare that the team wanted to dig further into how price increases compared to other sectors within healthcare.

"The biggest takeaway is obviously that prescription drugs are rising beyond any of the other healthcare services," she said.

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Other types of services the researchers analyzed include nursing home care and dental services, which increased by 23% and 18%, respectively, in the same window.

Marsh said prices rose quite rapidly in the first half of the study window, from 2014 to 2017, amid notable deregulation. But interest in tamping down drug price increases from politicians across the spectrum has led to less dramatic spiking between 2017 and 2020.

Despite this, however, she doesn't foresee an immediate future where drug companies push down prices in a significant way.

"It's important for consumers to understand that they need to kind of be educated and informed consumers for their healthcare," she said. "It’s often not easy, and it requires a little bit of due diligence on their part."

GoodRx also compares its own index, which is based on list prices, to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which estimates that drug prices have increased by 20% since 2014. The BLS index incorporates cash prices and copayments into calculations.

Marsh said having insight into multiple metrics of drug pricing is crucial because, while relatively few patients pay list prices at the pharmacy, it does impact how their costs shake out.

"It informs all other prices down the line," she said. "It can end up trickling down to patients in the form of deductibles, copays, premiums and cash payments."