Wholesale Prescription Drug Prices Increased by 2.5 Times Inflation Rate Between 2003, 2004, Study Finds
Wholesale prices for brand-name prescription drugs increased by 7.1% -- 2.5 times the general inflation rate of 2.7% -- between 2003 and 2004, according to a study released on Tuesday by AARP, USA Today reports. For the study, researchers from the AARP Public Policy Institute and the PRIME Institute analyzed the wholesale prices for 195 brand-name and 75 generic medications commonly used by U.S. adults ages 50 and older.
According to the study, between 2003 and 2004, the wholesale price for the anti-cholesterol medication Lipitor increased by 6.4%, compared with a 6.6% increase for the arthritis treatment Celebrex, a 4.2% increase for the hypertension medication Norvasc and a 7.9% increase for the heart disease treatment Plavix. Wholesale prices for 153 prescription drugs have increased by an average of 35.1% since 1999, compared with the general inflation rate of 13.5%, the study found.
Wholesale prices for generic medications increased by 0.5% between 2003 and 2004, according to the study.
Researchers said that increases in wholesale prices are passed on to consumers who pay retail prices. AARP CEO Bill Novelli said that, based on the results of the study, pharmaceutical companies "have failed to keep their price increases in line with inflation, despite consumer appeals for them to hold the line," adding, "Much more needs to be done to slow down spiraling drug pricing."
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of communications at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, called the study "exaggerated and misleading." He said, "Price data clearly shows prescription drug prices have increased about 4% a year" (Welch, USA Today, 4/12).