“The skyrocketing cost of specialty drugs is especially tragic for those suffering from diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis,” John Rother, AARP's executive vp of policy and strategy, says in a statement. “These drugs can provide comfort and hope to these individuals and their families. But even the most miraculous drug is useless if a person can’t afford to take it.”
The survey, which covered 144 brand-name and generic meds, will be used by AARP in its battle to speed approval for biogenerics. Three bills were submitted in Congress that would create a so-called pathway for the FDA to follow in approving generic or follow-on versions of specialty biotech meds, which cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, and sometimes more (back story).
The prices, based on manufacturers' charges to providers or pharmacies, have risen faster since Medicare drug coverage took effect in 2006, according to the AARP study. The average increase was 5 percent in 2004, 6.8 percent in 2005, and 7.9 percent in 2006. And prices for brand-name meds used by Medicare beneficiaries, such as cholesterol pills, rose an average of 7.4 percent in 2007, while the cost for generics dropped by 9.6 percent. Here is the report. Have fun.