Part D drug prices have risen 4 percent


Thu Jul 6


WASHINGTON (UPI) - Since the debut of Medicare's Part D drug benefit for seniors, health plans have raised drug prices 4 percent, say new studies.

Research done by patient advocacy groups FamiliesUSA and AARP revealed that, during Part D's first five months, most health insurers offering Part D plan raised their prices for the 20 most commonly prescribed drugs for seniors.

The research done by FamiliesUSA showed that the median price for the plans' top 20 drugs jumped 3.7 percent between mid-November 2005 and April 17 2006, while an AARP report suggested a 4-percent rise in branded medicines since the beginning of the year.

FamiliesUSA's probe also suggested that prescription-drug prices in Part D plans climbed at a parallel rate to price increases imposed by drug manufacturers during the same period.

"For 19 of the 20 drugs, the average wholesale price increase was virtually identical to increases in prices established in Part D plans," said Ron Pollack, executive director of FamiliesUSA. "That's critically important because these Part D plans are not ameliorating the price increases imposed by the drug manufacturers."

The group said that, in light of the drug-price spike, seniors may have to turn to online Canadian pharmacies.