According to new data, prices for the 15 best-selling drugs rose by much higher rates in 2010 than they did in each of the last five years, as reported Wednesday in MSNBC.
Two thirds of the drugs saw double-digit price hikes, well above inflation of 1.6 percent in 2010 measured by the consumer price index.
Data show that payments for Pfizer Inc's Lipitor rose 11.4 percent last year, compared with 5 percent annually from 2005 to 2010, while AstraZeneca's Crestor, Bristol Myers Squibb and sanofi-aventis' Plavix and Merck & Co.'s Singulair climbed in the mid-teen percentage range.
AstraZeneca's Seroquel topped the list with a 16.5 percent price jump.
"Because of the increased number of drugs going generic, they profit more from the brand drugs on the market by increasing prices," said Nancy Stalker, vice president for pharmacy services at Blue Shield of California.
"The price escalation is truly incredible," said Judy Cahill executive director the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, adding that since drugs generally make up about 10 percent of medical spending, they are often not a top priority for cost-cutting.