The AARP Public Policy Institute found the average annual price of commonly used drugs to have increased by 9.4% in 2013, significantly outpacing the rate of inflation and marking the highest growth since 2006.
The overall jump in price was driven by sharper increases in specialty and brand-name drugs, while the average cost of generics fell by 4%.
With these results, the average annual cost of therapy per drug as measured by the AARP hit over $11,000 a year.
The AARP's report found the average prices of prescription drugs increased each year between 2006 and 2013, with growth accelerating in recent years. Among the 477 widely-used prescription drugs it examined, the average annual cost per therapy more than doubled over the eight years. The roughly $11,000 per therapy cost in 2013 represents three-quarters of the average Social Security retirement benefit, and one-fifth of the median US household income.
“If recent trends in prescription drug prices and related price increases continue, it will almost undoubtedly become more difficult for patients to access and afford necessary medications. This will lead to poorer health outcomes and higher healthcare costs in the future,” the report said.
The report also noted that falling prices due to lower cost of generics could no longer be counted on to moderated price increases in the specialty and brand-name categories. Generic drug prices have fallen steadily over the last ten years, but the AARP’s data shows it insufficient to balance other drug price increases.
The AARP analyzed 622 prescription drugs for this analysis, including 227 brand name drugs, 115 specialty, and 280 generics.