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U.S. Drug Prices Up 9.1% in 2009 On Brand Name Products

For most industries, prices were stagnant in 2009. In fact, the consumer price index was down 0.4% last year ( But according to the Wall Street Journal, drug prices in the United States were up by 9.1%, the largest increase in more than a decade. Below is an analysis of the prices of two popular prescription drugs identified in the WSJ as showing the greatest increases, the cost for an uninsured American at a local New York City pharmacy, and how much they could save through personal drug importation via a verified online pharmacy.

Per Pill Cost[i]Potential Savings
Medication Name: Brand (Generic)StrengthU.S[ii]Canada[iii]NZ/UK[iv]CanadaOther Int'lOverall
Tegretol (Carbamazepine)200mg$2.87$0.77$0.5773%80%80%
Cleocin HCl (Clindamycin) [v]300mg caps$24.00$3.38NA86%NA86%
Catapres (Clonidine HCl)0.1mg$3.34$0.45NA86%NA86%
Sandimmune (Cyclosporine)100mg /mL 50mL$664.84$327.98NA51%NA51%
Lanoxin (Digoxin)[vi]0.125mg$12.54$0.75NA94%NA94%
Depakote (Divalproex)[vii]250mg$5.73$0.90NA84%NA84%
Zarontin (Ethosuximide)250mg$4.51$0.66NA85%NA85%
Synthroid (Levothyroxine)100 mcg (0.1mg)$1.87$0.35$0.6381%66%81%
Dilantin (Phenytoin)100mg$1.45$0.33$0.4877%67%77%
Depakene (Valproic acid)250mg$5.76$0.93NA84%NA84%
Coumadin (Warfarin)5mg$3.69$0.60NA84%NA84%
*Prices as of 4/21/2010

The chief medical officer of Express Scripts, one of the largest pharmacy benefit mangers, is quoted in the article as saying that the price increases on brand name drugs were “exacerbated by the health-care reform debate,” suggesting that drug companies are jacking up prices before they are required to give rebates under Medicaid and Medicare. Some pharmaceutical companies countered that their “price adjustments,” in part, were based on a strategy to ensure consumer access to medications. Raising prices at rates not seen in a decade doesn’t seem like a great way to ensure consumer access to medications, especially during a year plagued by economic recession and major job losses.

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