AARP released a report today that finds that prices of widely used brand name prescription drugs skyrocketed last year – “skyrocketed” meaning climbed more than eight percent (8%) even while general inflation remained negative. The New York Times covered the findings here.
The report – called Rx Price Watch – is the first of its kind, looking at the retail price of drugs – that is, the amount that is actually charged to consumers (and/or insurers). The findings of this Rx Price Watch align with previous findings of the Rx Watchdog reports that found similarly large increases in manufacturer prices for brand name drugs.
AARP Executive Vice President John Rother said, “For the first time, we know that brand name drug retail prices are growing just as quickly as manufacturer prices. These are increases that hit the wallets of every American, whether through their own health care bills or the costs of programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”
The report also points out that the skyrocketing prices can push many older Americans – who rely on brand name medications for chronic illnesses – more quickly into the dreaded Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole,” where they have to pay the full cost of drugs. AARP’s Doughnut Hole Calculator can help folks in Medicare’s prescription drug program find lower cost drugs that can help keep them out of that gap.
You can read AARP’s statement on the report here, and the full report here. Rother summed it up nicely when he said that unless something is done to bring down brand name drugs price increases, life-saving medicines will be out of reach for too many.