Senate committee blasts drug pricing practices

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Armed with AARP and Kaiser Family research, members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging asked panelists why brand drug prices in the United States continue to increase, while other countries often pay half as much. The March 17 hearing was led by guest chair Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). Nelson singled out Lipitor, Plavix, Nexium and Lexipro pricing as particularly "egregious." Each increased prices by 25% or more from 2006 to 2010, he said. Actonel and Aricept increased by 39% by 41%, respectively, over the same period, said Nelson. Those figures were challenged later in the hearing by panelist John Calfee, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.