Prices far outpace inflation: AARP study

Prices far outpace inflation: AARP study

Arnold, Matthew

AN AARP study of manufacturer list prices for 197 brand-name drugs widely used by older Americans found prices far outpacing the rate of inflation.

The group said manufacturer prices for branded prescription drugs rose 7.6 percent for the 12 months to June, measured as a rolling average and weighted by 2003 sales to Americans 50 and over. By contrast, the rate of general inflation was 2.2 percent for the 12 months ending in June.

Among the worst offenders of the year to date were Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Plavix, which increased list prices 7.9 percent, and Pravachol, up 7 percent. The highest increase was for AstraZeneca’s Toprol XL, which soared 9.1 percent in the first nine months of 2004.

However, the average manufacturer price increase for the first three quarters, at 5 percent, was the lowest since 2001. The group said the increase is nonetheless unsustainable for many of its members, and pledged to move forward with lobbying, litigation and consumer awareness efforts aimed at pressuring the industry to lower prices. AARP launched a publication, AARP Rx Watchdog Report, to monitor drug pricing and influence opinion leaders.-Matthew Arnold

Copyright CPS Communications Jan 2005

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