February 15, 1996 in Nation/World

Big Rise In Prices On Drugs

Associated Press

The prices drug companies charge for the top 500 prescription medicines rose 4.6 percent in 1995, more than double the wholesale inflation rate, a study by retail druggists said Wednesday.

The results were the latest evidence that the pharmaceutical industry has aggressively raised prices in the two years since national health care reform efforts failed.

The inflation rate was higher than the 4.1 percent rate in 1994 and 4.0 percent rate in 1993, when health reform and drug prices were dominant political themes.

Drug manufacturers disputed the study’s accuracy, saying it fails to reflect discounts given to health insurers and other vendors of prescription medicine.

Among the drug categories that the study said gained the most: diuretics, which are drugs used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, up 33.4 percent; cough and cold drugs, up 12.8 percent; skin disorder drugs, up 9.5 percent; and antidepressants, up 7.2 percent.

Drug industry critics say manufacturers are exploiting the demise of President Clinton’s health care reforms and the pro-business attitude of Republicans in Congress to raise prices faster than in past years.

Drug industry profits are among the healthiest in American industry and drug stocks are among the fastest rising on Wall Street.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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