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Drug prices

Brand-name drug prices rise faster than inflation

Thursday, September 21, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: drug prices, the AARP, Adventis

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(NewsTarget) The prices of brand-name prescription drugs used by older Americans continue to increase, while generic drugs used by the same age group remain relatively unchanged in price, according to the AARP's quarterly Rx Watchdog Report.

The report listed 200 brand-name prescription drugs that on average rose 6.3 percent during a 12-month period ending in June 2006. Over the same amount of time, national inflation rose only 3.8 percent -- meaning that while older Americans were paying more for things like home heating, food and shelter, even more money was being spent on the most popular prescription drugs.

Among the top price hikes were Adventis' Ambien (5mg), which rose 13.3 percent; Boehringer Ingelheim's Combivent, 12 percent; Pfizer's Atrovent Inhaler, 12 percent; Adventis' Ambien (10mg), 9.9 percent; and GlaxoSmithKline's Wellbutrin, which rose 9.4 percent.

Susan Raetzman, Associate Director of the AARP Public Policy Institute, commented, "When you look at how that translates to the cost of the drug to people, it's an increase of over $70 a year for a drug that's taken on a regular basis...Drug companies keep raising prices because they can. There really aren't market forces at work...They don't have competitors."

Total drug cost increases for older Americans can add up to over $300 per year, according to the report. In response to such a high increase in prescription drug costs, the AARP is supporting a bill currently in Congress to allow Americans to import needed drugs from Canada and other western nations.

Critics of conventional medicine say that seniors don't have to be at the mercy of drug companies' price increases. "There are foods and supplements that can lift mood and clear depression that don't have any side effects, and won't cost as much as these brand-name prescription drugs," says Mike Adams of NewsTarget.com, noting that some of the worst offenders were anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. "Plus, taking these steps will actually improve your overall health, which is something that none of these drugs can promise." ###

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