Brand Name Drug Prices Rise Significantly In Past Year

Here’s yet another reason to go for generic drugs when you can: drug makers keep raising prices on brand name products. If you group generics and brand names together, drug prices rose by 3.4% in 2009, according to an industry report. However, if you look at just brand name drugs as the AARP did in a new report, the average price hike was 8.3%. An earlier AARP report from May points out that if you look at specialty drugs “widely used by people in Medicare” then the hike jumps to 9.2%.

The closer you get to the top of the popularity chart for brand name drugs, the worse it gets: the most popular brands jumped 41.5%.

The AARP will release the new study later today.

“AARP Says Brand-Name Drug Prices Up 8% in 2009” [New York Times]
“AARP Report Finds Largest Brand Name Drug Price Spike in Eight Years While General Inflation Remains Near Zero” [AARP]


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  1. Mighty914 says:

    That’ll do nicely as Exhibit A for why healthcare is so mucked up in this country.

    Unfortunately, there are still a lot of drugs out there that do not have a generic equivalent yet.

    • DariusC says:

      Sadly, the government gives them research money to help subsidize the price of the pills and those f*ckers go and jack the price up anyways. Our tax dollars are used to fund their Maui beach vacations.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        We’re also helping to subsidize the price of prescription drugs in countries with nationalized healthcare.

        • Skankingmike says:

          not only do we subsidize their drugs we subsidize their medical equipment. We have many medical companies here in NJ and I talk to the guys who ship things overseas.

          They pay nothing for the rental and it can be 1-2 year rental contracts on the equipment.

          but hey i’m sure somebody pays for it. :P

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      Playing devils advocate here. It is exceptionally expensive to find, research, get approval, and bring to market new drugs. I know someone who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for years from pre-clinical through phase 3 and it never ceases to amaze them the 100’s of millions of dollars it takes and the length of time required to bring new drugs to market.

      Drug companies aren’t charities, they are publicly and privately owned for profit companies.

      That being said, I have never seen companies that can generate revenues like a a pharmaceutical company. They throw some amazing Christmas parties.

      • JMILLER says:

        Well of course they have lavish parties. They need to “teach” the doctors about their new “cure”. Of course, many discoveries are made by public universities with government funds. If the other countries are smart enough to have single payer health care, good for them. If the US had it maybe we wouldn’t have an entire generation diagnosed as ADHD, or bi-polar because you need to start people in the drug habit as early as possible

        • domcolosi says:

          Just to pick at one point here…

          What, exactly, do you think happens when a drug is discovered at a large university? Do you think it becomes public domain?

          The school patents it and then sells the patent out. This, arguably, makes the drugs more expensive than if the pharm company discovered it.

          • jessjj347 says:

            I would argue that the real work the universities are doing is in genetics. They are seeing how drugs react to the human genome, which is really valuable. So although they may discover the drugs at times making them expensive through patent, they also research the crap out of the drugs through clinical trials, genetic research, etc.

            • domcolosi says:

              True, yes, but the money for this research comes from grants. Those grants sometimes come from the government, but in certain fields, like pharmacy, they can come from private companies, too.

      • trey says:

        i think your point just got its ass kicked.

      • VeganPixels says:

        When you say “bring new drugs to market,” are we talking about the primetime network commercial placement market or the 50% off a congressman sale?

      • jessjj347 says:

        And they also treat the lower-end workers like crap (biologists, researchers, etc) and pay them next to nothing. All of the profits go straight to the higher-ups.

      • Minze says:

        I’ll agree with the statement “the 100’s of millions of dollars it takes and the length of time required to bring new drugs to market.” however, by the time the drug does go to market, that is a known cost. The unknown is the number of consumers who will adopt the drug as a regular medicine. If they estimate correctly (and they should because this is their business), they should know the cost per dose to break even and post a profit. Since we are discussing the “most widely used drugs”, one would reason that the more people that adopt the drug over and above their estimate is pure profit over the R&F and marketing of the drug.

        Disclaimer – this would take into account that they know their business and price drugs according to the estimated doses to sell over the period of exclusivity in relation to the cost of R&D.

  2. dolemite says:

    “Well, we are making profits, but merely insane profits. I want us back to making *obscene* profits! Johnson, raise prices across the board! And I want another 100 million for tv ads pronto!”

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Yeah, it’s salt in the wound when not only do you have to pay higher prices but have to endure insipid drug ads to boot.

    • Darury says:

      Do we need to have the discussion that all these “profits” aren’t going into someone’s mattress for safe keeping? Has anyone looked at the actual MARGIN these companies are making? Perhaps it’s time we start charging windfall profits tax on each movie that makes more than double the 2nd place film for any weekend. Obviously we’re not sharing the wealth enough between movies.

      • TheDoctor says:

        Thats cute, you used a metaphor! To bad its so painfully inaccurate I may have to get some these over priced drugs. When was the last time you saw a movie (or any luxury good) cure a disease? Maybe you saw that one movie that put cancer into remission, that one was great!

        You are so far away from the real problem here its ridiculous and I hope you feel bad.

  3. Alvis says:

    Yet another reason that health care privatization is inherently flawed.

    • trey says:

      yep… cause the government is so efficient at other programs… social security, Fannie Mae Freddy Mac, Medicare,… the list goes on and on…

      • Skankingmike says:

        Police, military, NASA, roads, school, rescue, (hospitals back in the day and some still) but lets ignore all of that, subsides for food, drugs, and medical expenses, lower rates on loans to banks thus loans to you, student lending programs (without government involvement more than half if not more than that would never go to college), power grids, FTA, FCC……

        Nope the government is so damn unimportant and does everything wrong.

  4. holden190 says:

    The NYT reporter needs to check his facts.

    Flomax is not for incontinence. It is used for chronic growth of the prostate (BPH).

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      That’s semantics. For people who have flow issues BECAUSE of chronic growth of the prostate, they use Flomax.

    • JMILLER says:

      Well here is the way they advertise it.

      Seems like incontinence is one of the things it purports to help with.

  5. aloria says:

    I count the days that my prescription is available as a generic. $40 a month for my well being is worth it, but still a pain in my wallet, and unfortunately, nothing else I’ve tried works.

    • katarzyna says:

      Yeah, I got one that’s $105/month, doesn’t go generic until next year. Totally worth it, though, I’d spend $100/week not to have constant allergies.

      • trey says:

        i feel your pain… mine used to be 300 per month before Walmart started the 4 dollar prescriptions… now, it is 4 bucks!!! woo hoo. hope you get a generic soon.

  6. smo0 says:

    I don’t have any drug regiments… kinna tossed them all and are attempting the chemical free life…. outside of caffiene.. *twitch* so I haven’t kept up on this….

    it just seems that this might be in anticipation of obama care? sort of like the card act “inspired” interest rate hikes for credit cards… but that’s just my overall perspective at first glance…

  7. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I don’t have insurance… two of my medications do not have generics. One was $300 a month, the other $900 a month. Not to mention the cost of going to a specialist. So, that’s out the window.

    I’ve been medication free for over a year.. it’s not as bad as I thought it was, but I do end up taking a day to three days off of work a month because I can’t make it in.
    And I’m more crabby. Muscles weaken sometimes… And I don’t have enough energy to do much.

    But it’s not life threatening without them – unless I’m driving for more than 40 minutes – then it can get pretty life-threatening.

  8. pot_roast says:

    What happened to Obama’s promise of cheaper drug prices by importing them? :(

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      His plate’s been a bit full. Not everything gets done overnight.

    • trey says:

      just like a lot of other promises… he lied.

      • Skankingmike says:

        he didn’t lie, he wanted public health care and the idiots in Washington, who already have public health care, made idiots at home believe that the government will some how murder them.

    • Danny Boy says:

      I believe as a compromise to get the healthcare bill through it was stripped out. You can thank the party of “No” for that one.

    • VeganPixels says:

      Teh socializm and teh gubmint hands on mah Medicares is wut killed it. Or something.

  9. Skankingmike says:

    My prescription drug plan only covers Non Generic for my prescription, but it’s only 10 dollars for a months supply.

    I know it should cost much more than that but hey not gonna complain.

    I pay 3 dollars for another pill that I can take which is generic and my plan will cover it. My aunt gets that same pill same quantity and pays 30 for it.

    So yea i may not make as much as person X but my medical benefits make up for it.

    Whats that? no it’s called free enterprise right? I mean it’s not like I’m tied to my job .. no i can leave anytime I want, benefits? Na everybody can afford medical in this country they just passed the law right? /s

  10. MustWarnOthers says:

    I also find it extremely pleasant when there IS a generic alternative to a drug, and then the parent company of said drug puts the generic producer through nearly endless litigation until they are forced to stop producing the generic.

    This happened with, I believe, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo (It may have been another birth control).

    Basically my fiancee’s plan was paying for nearly all of the generic, then one day out of nowhere, they started charging like 60-70 dollars for the month prescription. She questioned it and the pharmacist took us aside after we persisted and gave us a “wink wink” type of look, and explained that the parent company is essentially trying to destroy the generic company so that it maintains control over the drug/product. Purely for profit purposes.

    I know birth control isn’t THAT important, but the principle of how the situation panned out is just disgusting, and I can feel the pain of someone with a life threatening disease needing the generic alternative in order to not drown in debt.

  11. Harry_Greek says:

    Who will buy expensive ‘services’ when the poor and middle class can no longer afford them? Many of these companies (cable, healthcare, etc) are pricing themselves out.

    • Skankingmike says:

      When they start to see drops then the finical institutes will release more credit for lower rates just like last time.

      It’s a cycle.

    • smo0 says:

      I have the same question… it’s like the conpiracy theories about wiping out the race or world domination….

      if you’re on top.. and there’s no one left to control, buy your product… etc… then what was your ultimate goal?

      • Tim says:

        Capitalism only works if there are poor people. The rich need to make money off the poor. They also need to poor to do jobs like janitors and landscapers.

        So no, I don’t think the lower class will ever be eliminated in a capitalist system. The middle class very well might be.

  12. Nick says:

    A thirty day supply of the generic for xxxxx cost over $300.00. Great deal, don’t you agree?!?! I’m calling Canada next time.

  13. redrover189 says:

    The main thing that bothers me is that I’m sure some of the price associated with buying a prescription drug (specifically those that do not have generics) is advertising money. Maybe I’m alone here, but I don’t feel it’s necessarily in the public interest for drug companies to be advertising their medication to the general populace.

    Obviously we all want to be informed consumers, but I think we’ve got the cart before the horse here. The protocol should be that you have an ache/pain/issue, you visit a doctor, describe said issue and the doctor determines appropriate treatment. However, I know more than a few people who have seen the latest designer drug advert on TV, and immediately (consciously or subconsciously) start seeing “symptoms” of the issue treated by said drug. They go to the doctor, mention that they’re having “issues”, ask for said drug and the doctor blindly prescribes it.

    Now clearly, that’s not always the case, and there are more issues at hand than just the blatant advertisements, but honestly, I just see that as another problem caused by the super profit-driven drug companies.

    • Ladybird says:

      You bring up something interesting. I see advertisements for diseases that didn’t “exist” 30 years ago (exist meaning not well known) and often wonder if there are some people who say “Hey doc, I saw this medicine on TV and ….”

      If I could live my life never seeing a commerical for a medicine again, I would be a very happy person. It could help me avoid things like the 30 minute conversation with my boyfriend about the Nuva Ring and how in the hell it gets in there.

      • redrover189 says:

        It’s none of his business what you do with your vealy vulva (had to make the obscene Archer reference).

        I’m sure this will make me unpopular, but that question always pops up when it comes to the debate about ADD/ADHD. I don’t doubt it’s a genuine disease, but I wonder if it’s truly as prevalent as advertisements and doctors would like to believe. I know 8 or 9 people in my immediate circle of friends/family who are on Ritalin/Adderall and I sometimes wonder if it’s completely necessary.

        Are we truly, as a nation, as afflicted by ADD as the numbers would show…or is it an unfortunate confluence of overstimulated/under-exercised kids, drug advertisements claiming to be the solution to your issues and doctors willing to prescribe medicine like candy?

        Again, I don’t mean this as a slight against people actually suffering from ADD/ADHD, and I know it is actually a real disease, but I do think in a lot of cases it’s overprescribed (see my college roommates who went to the doctor and begged for it, then used it as a study aid…)

      • VeganPixels says:

        I see more ads for “foods” that didn’t exist 30 years ago. But that’s probably just a coincidence.

  14. c!tizen says:

    That’s why I get all my drugs from Pancho; reasonable prices and the volume of product protects against inflation.