Retail drug prices drive member behavior

October 1, 2010

Although such costs are just one indicator of underlying increases in overall healthcare spending, the data shows a clear trend

RETAIL PRICES of brand name drugs continue their upward trek, taking an especially big step up the slope last year. Although such costs are just one indicator of underlying increases in overall healthcare spending, the data shows a clear trend.

According to a new report by the AARP's Public Policy Institute, prices for 217 widely used brand name drugs climbed 8.3% in 2009 even as general inflation remained negative. The increase was markedly higher than the annual rates of increase during the previous four years, which ranged between 6.0% and 7.9%.

Price increases were far from uniform, however. Among the drugs studied, those manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim and BTA Pharmaceuticals had average increases of more than 15%, while those made by Merck, Allergan and Alcon had average increases of less than 5%.