WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. seniors group Wednesday said prices pharmaceutical companies charge wholesalers for brandname drugs rose by three times the rate of inflation in 2003.
The AARP said its analysis of the annual increase in prices for the most widely used drugs averaged 4.1 percent in 2000 to 6.9 percent in 2003, while general inflation dropped from 3.3 percent to 2.2 percent over the same period.
Ranking drugs by top sellers, the average cost of Merck's Fosamax for osteoporosis increased 5.6 percent each year, followed by Pfizer's cholesterol lowering medication, Lipitor, which saw average annual increases of 6 percent.
BMS's Plavix, used to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, also is among the top 15 sellers and registered a 7.8 percent annual increase.
"People cannot afford to pay -- and if these prices continue they will not be able to afford to pay -- for these prescription drugs," John Rother, policy director for AARP, told a news briefing.
The survey estimated a senior taking three drugs daily saw their annual drug bill increase by up to $181 in 2003.