AARP: Drug price increase in 2006 exceeds rate of inflation

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Last year – for the sixth year in a row – manufactures' prices for brand name drugs rose at twice the rate of inflation, according to a new report from AARP.

Prices for the 193 drugs most commonly used by the 50+ age group increased an average of 6.2%, while the Consumer Price Index rose 3.2%, the report said. Meanwhile, manufacturer list prices for 75 generic drugs tracked by AARP decreased an average of 2% last year.

Since the end of 1999, average drug prices for many of the medications used by seniors have increased nearly 54%, while overall inflation is up about 20%, AARP said. Congress is currently debating whether to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug costs in the Medicare Part D program.

Pharmaceutical industry disagreed with the report findings. The industry argued that increases in prescription drug spending slowed for the sixth year in a row, and that retail prescription prices increased only 1.5% last year.

The AARP report is available at http://www.aarp.org/research/health/drugs/aresearch-import-869-2004-06--IB69.html.