Increasing drug costs could wipe out 'benefit'

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2004

Two major, recent studies agree: Even as seniors sign up for the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit, the ever-increasing price of pharmaceuticals threatens to wipe out any ''benefit.''...

The grim picture was painted by the numbers in two separate studies issued by Families USA and the AARP, both of which showed drug prices increasing at roughly three times the rate of inflation.

The methodologies were slightly different. The AARP tracked the list prices for the 200 most commonly prescribed drugs from 2000 to 2003, finding that prices increased nearly three times the rate of inflation. That's a fair comparison, given that Social Security checks are also keyed to the rate of inflation.

The Families USA study used slightly different methodology and covered 30 drugs, many of which it has tracked for several years. The conclusions, however, were the same: Prices have gone up between 6 percent and 7 percent each year. ...

These reports expose the truth. Congress has not dealt with the issue of prescription-drug price gouging. In fact, the new law which prevents the federal government from negotiating for price discounts and undermines existing Medicare supplement plans could actually make the situation considerably worse for seniors. ...

The Daytona (Fla.) Beach News-Journal

June 1

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