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Thursday, 3rd June 2010

Rx Watchdog: Brand Name and Specialty Drug Prices Continue to Climb

Rx Watchdog: Brand Name and Specialty Drug Prices Continue to Climb (PDF)
Source: AARP

Brand-name prescription drug prices have jumped nearly 10 percent in the past 12 months—the biggest spike in eight years, according to a new AARP report.

The AARP Rx Watchdog report released this week found that the cost of prescription drugs most commonly used by those in Medicare rose 9.7 percent over the 12-month period ending in March. The Alzheimer’s drug Aricept rose by nearly 14 percent, while the heart disease medication Plavix saw a 10.5 percent jump. Expensive specialty drugs, such as biologics or injectable drugs, saw a hike of 9.2 percent, the report found. The inflation rate remained virtually flat during the same period.

Despite the price increase for brand names, the cost of generic drugs declined by an average of 9.7 percent. The study found that the average yearly costs for a person taking three generic medications dropped by $51, compared with a $706 increase for people taking three comparable brand-name prescriptions.

A spokesman for the drug industry, however, challenged the accuracy of the AARP study. “The report is misleading because it is based on incomplete information,” Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry association, said in a prepared statement. “The report’s conclusions ignore the reality that prescription medicines represent a small and decreasing share of growth in overall health care costs in the United States.”


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