The Formulary Files

A few specialty drug prices fall — all generics

Specialty drugs are the most expensive drugs on the market, with prices that can range from $5,000 to more than $30,000 per year, and in only a few cases are the prices falling, according to a report from the AARP Public Policy Institute, which looked at 144 specialty drugs widely used by Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

“Trends in Manufacturer Prices of Specialty Prescription Drugs Used by Medicare Beneficiaries” identifies the six specialty drugs with the largest decreases in manufacturer price, ranging from 14.3 percent to 47.5 percent.

AARP defines specialty drugs as prescription medications that are used to treat complex chronic conditions and that require special administration, handling, and care management. In all, there were 11 specialty drugs that decreased in price. All the products whose manufacturer price declined for 2007 were generics.

Overall, manufacturers have raised prices of specialty prescription drugs since the implementation of the Medicare drug benefit in 2006. The average increases in 2006 and 2007 (7.9 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively) were substantially higher than in the previous two years (5 percent in 2004 and 6.8 percent in 2005).

Source: AARP Public Policy Institute. Rx Watchdog Report. Trends in Manufacturer Prices of Specialty Prescription Drugs Used by Medicare Beneficiaries, 2004 to 2007

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