It's the first business day of 2024 and, similar to previous years, annual drug price increases are garnering media attention.

Price increases are expected to be nominal given recent policy changes, including penalties for increases above the rate of inflation and direct Medicare drug price negotiation. So, why are routine price adjustments even being reported on?

Annual reporting has been customary, and the volume of increases – even if the rates are not high and few individual increases get attention – has become a public interest. This annual timeframe is an opportunity to keep drug pricing in the spotlight - particularly in an election year – when the tone of political commentary will discuss “America’s uniquely expensive prices.” Coverage also comes on the heels of the Biden Administration saying in December 2023 that it will lay out a framework on when "march in" rights can be used.

What should biopharmaceutical companies do?

  • Share Value Story: Continue to shape, articulate and share the value story for your medicines.  Share it broadly across stakeholder groups (e.g., KOLs, policymakers, payers, patient advocates, media) to inoculate against ungrounded criticisms.  In an environment where this is table stakes, enhance it by including ways your product addresses health equity concerns and keep it fresh by sharing new real-world evidence your company has generated.
  • Avoid Sticker Shock Suprises: Ensure providers and patients understand how a list price change will impact patients' out-of-pocket cost. Reassure this community you are there to support them.  Many manufacturers have outstanding patient support programs. However, these rarely make the news – but an aggrieved patient or provider community will.

About the Author:

Leigh Ann Bruhn is a healthcare veteran who brings deep industry (medical device/pharma manufacturing) and consulting experience to Syneos RRM. After leading commercial teams (brand marketing, market access) on the manufacturing side, including Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories, she joined Avalere Health, a top-tier healthcare consultancy in Washington DC.   

During her eight years at Avalere, she led many complex engagements with pharma/biotech manufacturers across market access, product commercialization and value strategy.  

She also oversaw Business Development efforts at Avalere and helped shape the Account Relationship Manager role there into what it is today.  

Leigh Ann has a BS in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA in Health Sector Management from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.