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AARP Continues National Assault on High Drug Prices

New AARP Rx Watchdog Study Finds Continued Increases in Prescription Drug Prices; Consumers are Fighting Back

For Immediate Release

Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560,

A new prescription drug price report issued by the AARP today found that the manufacturer prices for brand name prescription drugs continue to rise at an average rate that greatly outpaces general inflation. AARP state offices from Connecticut to California are fighting back with renewed efforts to bring down costs for all health care consumers.

The drug price study, conducted by AARP's Public Policy Institute in conjunction with the PRIME Institute at the University of Minnesota, found prices for nearly 200 of the most commonly used brand name medications rose 6.1 percent during the 12 month period from July 2004–June 2005. At the same time, the rate of general inflation was 3 percent.

One silver lining for consumers is that manufacturers of 75 widely used generic drugs continue to hold the line. Manufacturer prices for all of these products were unchanged during the second quarter of 2005.

The sharpest price increases were for the drug Atrovent 18 mg/act, which rose at 18.6 percent, and Ambien 5 mg which climbed 14.4 percent for the first six months of 2005. Among the best sellers, Proctor and Gamble's Actonel 35 mg rose 7.5 percent, Lilly's Evista 60 mg jumped 6.2 percent and AstraZeneca' s Toprol XL 50 mg increased 6 percent.

AARP CEO Bill Novelli said, "State, federal and family health care budgets are being stretched to the max, and sadly sometimes beyond. It is simply unsustainable for American consumers to continue footing the bill for endless increases in drug prices."

He added, "Consumers will be facing higher gas and energy costs this winter. With less disposable income, drug price increases will certainly have a chilling effect on the health and well being of millions struggling to afford the drug treatments they need."

AARP has declared November 2nd as "National Rx Watchdog Day." Today and throughout the week, 50 AARP state offices are coordinating efforts to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs. Through ballot initiatives, new legislation, consumer education, advertising, litigation and other activities, the battle against high drug costs is being waged state-by-state, coast-to-coast.

AARP drug price-busting efforts center on various areas that will lead to increased access and affordability. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Promotion of "evidence-based research," the use of generics when appropriate and the wise use of medications;
  • Market fairness including the public posting of drug prices, stricter regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising and physician detailing, and greater transparency of pharmacy benefits managers;
  • Bulk purchasing;
  • Preferred drug lists and prior authorization for state drug purchasing programs;
  • Authority for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • Safe and legal importation of drugs from Canada and other nations.

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