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Thromb Haemost. 2002 Oct;88(4):545-53.

The upward spiral of drug costs: a time series analysis of drugs used in the treatment of hemophilia.

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Baruch College, City University of New York, 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010, USA.



Hemophilia is an expensive disease because its treatment is heavily dependent on costly clotting factor drugs. Over the last nine years,a consortium of three Comprehensive Hemophilia Treatment Centers and other hospitals, which purchased clotting factors for their patients, has seen treatment costs escalate on average 17% annually. Currently, new, even more expensive drugs are entering the market.


This study analyzes 3,244 purchases that were made over a nine-year period totaling nearly 500 million units of clotting factor, representing every product on the market. Purchases were made both apart from and under the Federal Public Health Service (PHS)discount pricing rules.


The main cause of the increases was the move to newer, more expensive products. The average price of existing products increased less than 2%per year, but new products were priced, on average, 47% higher than existing products. Overall consumption increased by an average of 5% per year, likely reflecting prophylactic treatment modalities that require greater amounts of clotting factor. Government pricing programs, such as the PHS program, were ineffective or counterproductive at reducing costs. There is a notable absence of competition in this market, with a few dominant companies having a functional monopoly in the largest segments of the market. Prices of older products are not lowered, even when new products are brought to market. A few products that serve small patient groups have had their prices increased substantially.


This escalation is likely to continue as new, more expensive clotting factor drugs are developed. Since these new products are not proven to be any safer or more effective than the current products, this situation creates a risk of intervention by government and insurers to address both treatment costs and exhaustion of patients' insurance caps. Drug companies are not serving the patients by pricing new, but often very similar, products so aggressively. The trends seen in this patient group will likely be seen in other patient groups in the future. Ultimately, doctors and patients will lose treatment options and health care availability unless collaborative strategies are developed to reduce costs.

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