AARP report says branded drug prices increased 8.3 percent in 2009

AARP on Wednesday released a report that finds that the price of the 217 brandname drugs most frequently used by older Americans increased by an average of 8.3 percent, marking the largest increase in years.

According to the report, the retail prices for the most popular brand-name drugs increased 41.5 percent across the last five years, while the consumer price index rose 13.3 percent. Boehringer Ingelheim's Flomax posted the highest increase of 24.8 percent for the year, while Bristol-Myers Squibb's Plavix increased 8.8 percent, Takeda's Prevacid increased 7 percent, AstraZeneca's Nexium increased 6 percent, and Pfizer's Lipitor climbed 4.1 percent.

Commenting on the report, John Rother, executive vice president for policy and strategy for AARP, said "brandname retail prices have been accelerating year-to-year even when inflation has been nonexistent in the rest of the economy." However, drug industry officials challenged the report, noting that select brandname prices did not reflect the increased use of lower-cost generic drugs. The officials also noted that the government's survey for its official Consumer Price Index found that drug prices rose by 3.4 percent during 2009.

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