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Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Generic Prescription Drugs Skip to content

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Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Generic Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2017 Year-End Update

The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used generic prescription drugs decreased, on average, between 2006 and 2017. In 2017, retail prices for 390 generic prescription drugs widely used by older adults decreased by an average of 9.3 percent. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 2.1 percent over the same period.

This followed two consecutive years (2015 and 2016) of substantial generic drug price decreases; the previous two consecutive years (2013 and 2014) saw increases in generic drug prices.

Notably, the average annual retail price of therapy for widely used brand name drugs is considerably higher than that for widely used generic drugs, and the price differential between these two market baskets is widening. In 2017, the average annual price of therapy for widely used brand name prescription drugs was more than 18 times higher than the average annual price of therapy for generic prescription drugs ($6,798 v. $365, respectively).

The availability of economically competitive and lower-cost generic drugs will take on added importance as more brand name drugs and biologicals enter the market with unusually high prices.

These AARP Public Policy Institute reports are a continuation of our Rx Watchdog report series that has been tracking price changes for widely used prescription drugs since 2004. 

For more information, please contact the AARP Public Policy Institute at (202) 434-3890.

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