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Brand-Name Prescription Prices Increase While Generics Decline

Armen Hareyan's picture
Prescription Drugs

Prices of the most frequently used brand-name prescription drugs are rising despite the current economic recession, but prices of generic drugs are declining and more older U.S. residents are switching to the lower-cost alternatives, according to an annual AARP report released on Wednesday, the AP/Myrtle Beach Sun News reports. For the report, AARP examined the costs of the 219 most widely used brand-name drugs and found that manufacturers increased price on the drugs by 8.7% in 2008, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8% over the same period. Acid reflux treatment Prevacid increased the most, at 30%, while depression drug Wellbutrin and sleep medication Lunesta were second and third at 21% and 20%, respectively.

According to the AP/Sun News, some financial analysts have said that the rising cost of prescription drugs can be attributed to drugmakers' attempts to increase profit during the current economic recession. In addition, some drugmakers have raised prices of certain drugs before their patent expires and generic versions of the treatment become available, the AP/Sun News reports.

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Meanwhile, the costs of generic drugs declined by 10.6% on average in 2008, according to the report. AARP officials said they hope to continue persuading people to use more generic medications, as well as push lawmakers to focus on reducing drug prices. John Rother, AARP's public policy director, said, "Just about everybody in today's economy is feeling some economic pressures and it does not help that the drugs you take to keep healthy are much more expensive than last year," adding, "I think this makes the case for health reform." Rother said the price increases help make the case for policy changes, such as allowing the government to negotiate drug prices and drug reimportation.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America called the report "one-sided," saying that it focused on selective brand-name medicines. PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson said, "Unfortunately, AARP distorts the true, overall picture in hopes of dramatizing its report and deflecting attention from the millions of dollars it earns each year from its insurance businesses" (Werner, AP/Myrtle Beach Sun News, 4/15).

By Kaisernetwork.org