Report: Prices for top drugs for seniors far surpassed inflation

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The prices of the top 30 brand-name drugs prescribed to seniors increased at 4.3 times the rate of inflation in 2003, according to a report issued Tuesday by healthcare advocacy group Families USA. This could negate savings on medications under the new Medicare prescription drug discount card program.

According to the report, the average wholesale price of 28 of the top 30 brand name drugs rose by at least twice the rate of inflation from January 2003 to January 2004.  Twenty-one of those drug prices increased by three or more times the rate of inflation, and almost half rose by more than five times the inflation rate. 
 
The cost of Plavix, used to prevent blood clots, for example, rose 5.3 times the rate of inflation, while the cost of Fosamax, used to treat patients with osteoporosis, rose 4.6 times the inflation rate, Families USA said. 
 
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spokesman Jeff Trewhitt told the Bureau of National Affairs that drug prices rose 4.4% a year between January 2001 and March 2004, compared with 4.6% for medical inflation, he said. That, he said, is a more accurate way to track it.
 
The report, "Sticker Shock: Rising Prescription Drug Prices for Seniors," is available at www.familiesusa.org.