The AARP issued its latest report recently, showing that brand drug prices are still outpacing inflation. The report shows that wholesale brand drug prices in the 12 months ended June 2005 rose twice as fast as inflation, but that such price increases continue to decelerate.
The study, conducted by AARP's Public Policy Institute and the University of Minnesota's PRIME Institute, shows prices for almost 200 brand drugs most often used by Americans 50 and older rose 6.1 percent in the 12 months ended June 2005, while inflation rose 3 percent.
However, brand drug prices increased more slowly during the 12-month period than in previous years, the report said. Brand drug prices rose 7.1 percent for the year ended December 2004 and rose 7 percent for the 12 months ended December 2003.
Prices increased for nearly three-fourths of the brand drugs in the sample -- 142 out of 193 -- during the six months ended June 30, and all of these increases were at least twice the rate of general inflation during that period. The drugs that saw the largest price increases during that period were Atrovent (ipratropium bromide) 18 mg, which saw an 18.6 percent price increase, and Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) 5 mg, which saw a 14.4 percent price increase.
Meanwhile, average prices for 75 generic drugs most commonly used by older Americans rose by 0.9 percent in the 12 months ended June 2005, and were unchanged during the second quarter of 2005, the AARP said.
The AARP's last report, which looked at drug prices in the year ended March 2005, showed brand drug prices during that period rose 6.6 percent. Conversely, generic drug prices rose only 0.7 percent during the year ending March 2005, but that followed much larger price hikes in 2001 (7.8 percent), 2002 (15.8 percent) and 2003 (13.3 percent).