Study: Brand-name drugs fuel cost increase

Oct. 31, 2006 at 5:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. brand-name drug spending helped fuel a doubling of spending on outpatient prescription drugs from 1999 to 2003, a new study says.

During those years, total consumer spending on drugs purchased outside of hospitals increased to $178 billion per year, according to a new report by Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

At the same time, the proportion of drug purchases accounted for by brand-name drugs increased from 47.5 percent to 53 percent, at a total cost of $141 billion.

Meanwhile, the proportion of Americans purchasing generic prescription medicines remained essentially flat, with no significant change, with total spending of $37 billion.

The average amount per purchase that Americans spent each time they purchased a brand-name or generic prescription medicine increased from $59.49 to $82.53, while the average amount for generic medicine rose from $23.48 to $33.53.

The data in the study come from the agency's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national survey of how Americans use and pay for healthcare, including their health insurance coverage.

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