The AARP’s annual report on prescription drug prices, released last week, reveals that pharmaceutical manufacturers raised prices on the most popular brand-name drugs by 8.7 percent in 2008 — well over twice the rate of inflation.
According to the AP:
AARP’s report highlighted growing costs of what it said were the 219 most widely used brand-name drugs.
Among the drugs that saw the biggest price increases in 2008, according to AARP: Prevacid, for acid reflux; Wellbutrin, for depression; and Lunesta, for sleeping.
Prevacid went up by 30 percent, Wellbutrin by 21 percent and Lunesta by 20 percent.
Financial analysts have attributed some of the increases to drug makers attempting to boost profits amid an economic downturn as they confront the prospect of congressional action on health care that could change the marketplace.
One of the interesting notes in the story is the presumed rationale for the huge price increase for Prevacid:
Some brand-name drug prices are increased shortly before their patents expire and they become available as generics. Prevacid, for example, is going off-patent in November.
Let us put that another way for you. Prevacid’s manufacturer was given a monopoly that allowed it to charge whatever it wanted for the drug. With that monopoly finally close to expiration, despite all efforts to extend it, the manufacturer decided to hike prices another 30 percent just to milk the drug for all the profits it can — because it can.
The AARP’s public policy director, John Rother, advocates that Americans purchase their medications from safe and licensed Canadian pharmacies, among other remedies, to help counter rising U.S. drug costs.122