Going up by the twice the rate of inflation
While most health care costs are going down, or at least remaining stable, the cost of prescription drugs is going up. Last year, prescription drug prices were up 3.6%, or twice the rate of inflation.
Dr. Marc Fleming, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Administration and Public Health at the Univerisity of Houston College of Pharmacy says, “I would attribute it to the rebound in certain segments of the economy, and people having greater insurance.” In fact, drug prices are back at growth rates of a decade ago.
Four out of five prescriptions are for generic medications, and it is the balance between those generics and the cost of those high-priced, recently patented, name-brand drugs that fund research into the drugs of tomorrow. In the past two years the FDA has approved 70 new patented drugs, one a promising new treatment for cystic fibrosis, and another the first-ever drug for a common form a skin cancer.
The top selling drugs today are Nexium, a heartburn drug, which saw a 7.7% increase last year, up to $262 for an average prescription; Abilify, often used to treat bipolar disorder, up 10.4% to a very costly $642; and Crestor, the most popular cholesterol-busting drug, which is $193 for an average prescription.