Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Prices Soar for Hospital Drugs After Shortages Hit, Study Finds

  • Costs increased at twice usual rate after drugs became scarce
  • Study among the first to quantify price effects of shortfalls
Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Drug prices increased at roughly twice their usual rate after shortages developed, a study found, suggesting that pharmaceutical companies may be reaping additional profits when urgently needed medicines become scarce.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School examined the prices of 617 dosages and formulations of 90 different drugs that went in short supply between December 2015 and December 2016. They found that prices rose a cumulative 16 percent, on average, in the 11 months after the shortage began, compared with 7.3 percent in the prior 11 months.