AARP: Cost Of Brand Name Drugs Rose 9.7% Last Year

"The AARP says that manufacturer prices for brand-name prescription drugs commonly used by people on Medicare rose 9.7% for the year ending in March — the biggest annual jump since the group started tracking prices in 2002," The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports. "The price of specialty drugs like biologics and injectables rose 9.2%. Generic drug prices, meantime, dropped 9.7%. (All this happened while general inflation hovered around 0.3%.)" PhRMA, the industry group for drugmakers, called the report "misleading" because it failed to account for "discounts and rebates generally negotiated between drug manufacturers and payers" (Hobson, 5/17).

Meanwhile, The Arizona Republic reports that "under pressure from Congress and legal settlements, [pharmaceutical] companies for the first time are beginning to disclose payments made nationwide to doctors and medical professionals. ... Drug representatives say the payment disclosures are part of the industry's move to be more transparent about financial relationships with physicians. However, three of the five drug companies that have disclosed payments have done so as part of federal agreements involving improper marketing of drugs. As disclosures trickle out, critics have raised the question of whether such payments have influenced doctors who dispense prescriptions to patients" (Alltucker, 5/17).

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