Prescription drug prices rising faster than inflation rate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Prescription drug prices rising faster than inflation rate

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If those pills you're buying at your local drug store are brand name prescription drugs, you will pay more. If those pills you're buying at your local drug store are brand name prescription drugs, you will pay more.
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DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

If those pills you're buying at your local drug store are brand name prescription drugs, you will pay more. According to Express Scripts, brand name meds increased more than 13 percent in the last year.

Pharmacist Sam Costello said it's par for the course.  

"It's not a new trend. It's been going on for probably 30 years," said Costello.

But there was a time, according to Costello, when even new drugs were low in costs. 

"In the 70's when we started getting into a lot of inflation, President Carter, at the time, came out and said, 'I don't want any drug company in the United States raising prices over 10 percent.'"

He said that was the first time, since he'd been in the business, that all drug companies raised their prices by 10 percent. 

"It's almost like they've been given a blanket permission to raise it no more than 10 percent, and it's continued every year since then," Costello said.

There's also an irony to this story: The cost of generic drugs is plummeting. For example, Lipitor costs the drug store about $470 while the generic costs the drug store about $20.

Costello said there is a basic business principal at work here. 

"Competition as a rule lowers prices. So if you've got five or six generic companies producing the same drug and they're trying to get their drugs into pharmacies, then they may have to lower the price to get it on the shelf," he said.

Why the increase?

"You have to remember that a drug company to produce a new drug has to have a huge staff of research scientists that are trying to develop it, and after spending millions and millions of dollars, there's never a guarantee that drug is going to get approved," said Costello.

Even if it's approved, it could take a decade or more before it hits the shelf - an inflation fact patients are learning to live with.

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