Bracing for health care reform, drug companies have been raising prices at the fastest rate in almost 20 years—even as they pledge to support Washington's goal of cutting the nation's drug bill. The pharmaceutical industry is scrambling to get the price base as high as possible before legislation to curb drug spending kicks in, critics tell the New York Times.
Wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs rose 9% in the past year—a rate strikingly at odds with the falling consumer price index. "Price adjustments for our products have no connection to health care reform," says a Merck spokesman. Health care experts counter that this year's price hikes alone will cancel out savings from drugmakers' recent agreement with the White House and Senate to trim $8 billion a year from US drug costs.