Drug prices outpace inflation, new study shows

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Prices for brand-name drugs outpaced the rate of inflation over the past year, a new study shows.

Wholesale prices for the 200 brand-name drugs most commonly used by people over age 50 rose an average 6.1% over a one-year period ending in June, according to a recently released AARP study.

This is a smaller jump than the 7.1% increase the AARP reported for the one-year period ending in December 2004. Prices for the 75 generic drugs studied did not rise in the 12 months studied, the report says.
Critics of the AARP report, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, say the report is not accurate because it considers wholesale prices, not retail prices and does not reflect discounts granted by pharmaceutical companies to large purchasers, such as pharmacies.

The consumer price index showed that prescription drug prices rose 3.4% from July 2004 to July 2005.

Drugs with the highest increases in the first six months of 2005 included Atrovent, an emphysema drug, and Ambien, a sleep aid.
(Published 11-3-05)