Trends in the cost of new drugs launched between 1981 and 2015

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Posterpeer-review


Introduction: While prices for new drugs continue to increase overall, this masks significant disparities between therapeutic areas. It is unclear to what extent these patterns represent developers passing on real differences in development and manufacturing costs, or different pricing strategies based on an assessment of the current market and payers willingness to pay more for some conditions. Increased prices could be justified where new drugs meet an unmet clinical need and could encourage developers to focus efforts in priority fields. Our study investigates the trend in launch price of new drugs launched in the UK between 1981 and 2015 for five common health conditions.
Methods:Cross-sectional study using data on new drugs launched in the UK between 1981 and 2015 for hypertension, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia and colorectal cancer. All drugs marketed in the UK between 1981 and 2015 (inclusive), and licensed specifically for the treatment of one of the five chosen conditions were included in the study. Newly launched medicines and their launch prices were identified by hand-searching all editions of the British National Formulary (BNF) in addition to searching the websites of relevant regulatory agencies (European Medicines Agency and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). The launch price in UK pounds for a 28-day supply of each medicine at a typical or usual maintenance dose was adjusted for the effects of general inflation using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) deflator series.
Results:105 drugs were included in our study with a mean inflation adjusted 28-day launch price of £261 (SD £584). The launch price of new drugs varied significantly across the five conditions, with drugs for hypertension having the lowest mean price (£27) and drugs for colorectal cancer having the highest mean price (£1,245) (p<0.000). There were large increases in launch prices across the study period, but the magnitude and pattern was markedly different between therapeutic areas. Biologic drugs represented 13.3% of all included drugs and had a significantly higher launch price than non- biologic drugs (£1233 vs £111, p<0.000). 22.9% of included drugs were first of kind and had a significantly higher launch price than follow-on drugs (££630 vs £151) (p<0.0001).
Conclusions:Drugs prices continue to increase across different therapeutic areas. This has some association with novelty, but, it is not clear if this increase in price is associated with medical benefits.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019
EventHealth Technology Assessment International Conference, Cologne, June, 2019: HTA beyond 2020: Ready for the new decade? - The Maritim Hotel Cologne, Cologne, Germany
Duration: 15 Jun 201919 Jun 2019


ConferenceHealth Technology Assessment International Conference, Cologne, June, 2019
Abbreviated titleHTAi
Internet address