A report has found that prices of 200 brand name drugs which are taken regularly by older Americans have risen by 6.3% during the 12 month period ending mid June 2006, against an inflation rate of 3.8%. The survey was conducted by AARP and reported in their Rx Watchdog Report released on Tuesday. It is also reported that the prices of 75 commonly used generic drugs remain the same.
Heading the list of drugs with highest price rise is Aventis' Ambien 5mg with a hike of 13.3%.It is followed by Boehringer Ingelheim's Combivent (12%), Pfizer's Atrovent (12%), Ambien 10mg (9.9%) and Glaxo Smith Kline's Wellbutin (9.4%).
The biggest average six month price rise has been reported in Aventis, up by 7.7% and the lowest in Monarch and Takeda (0%) and Lilly (2.5%).
The report author Susan Raetzman, assosiate director of AARP's Public Policy Institute said that though the rate of price increase is the same as in recent years, it means an increase of over $70 annually, for a drug which is taken regularly. Considering an average annual cost of $300 on drugs for older people, this is quite steep.
Raetzman said that this would also affect people on Medicare Plan D as the cost increases get passed on to its members.
To help contain the drug price hikes AARP is supporting a bill in Congress, which will permit the import of drugs from Canada and other western countries.
David Sloane, AARP's senior managing director of government relations said in a prepared statement that for the first time a bill of this nature has received widespread support .It would allow safe and legal import of drugs.
The executive director, Sharon Treat of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group founded by state legislators to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible to Americans, said that the price increases are unjustified.
She felt that the people and the government were being ripped off and added that the Medicare Plan D seems to have spurred on the price increase. Under this plan the federal government cannot negotiate the prices of the drugs, which has resulted in a situation where reduction in the prices is not a priority.