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Drug Prices Rising Faster Than Inflation

A recent report has revealed that the prices of brand-name prescription drugs that are commonly used by older Americans are rising// faster than the rate of inflation.

However AARP's quarterly Rx Watchdog Report shows that prices of the 75 generic drugs commonly used by older Americans remain unchanged.

AARP survey of around 200 brand-name prescription drugs found that there was an increase in prices by 6.3 percent during the 12 months up to the second quarter of June 2006. The group found that this increase was more than the rate of inflation that was 3.8 percent over the same period.

Some of the drugs which showed the maximum year-to-date increases were Adventis' Ambien, a sleeping pill, 5 milligram, with an inconceivable rise of 13.3 percent price hike; Pfizer's Atrovent Inhaler showing a price hike of 12 percent, Boehringer Ingelheim's Combivent, a bronchodilator aerosol, also with a rise of 12 percent; Adventis' Ambien 10 mg. with a 9.9 percent price hike; and GlaxoSmithKline's Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, 150 mg, having a 9.4 percent price hike.

The lowest price increases were for the drug companies Monarch and Takeda (0.0 percent) and Lilly (2.5 percent). According to report author Susan Raetzman, associate director of the AARP Public Policy Institute the rate of price increases is the same as it has been in recent years, said report. She said, "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. And that's quite a bit higher than it has been in the past."

The average increase in drug costs for older Americans works out to around $300 a year, according to the report. Raetzman said that drug companies keep raising prices because they can. She said, "There really aren't market forces at work. They don't have competitors."

In addition Raetzman noted that prices are likely to go up for those in Medicare
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