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Study: Drug prices increased at more than double inflation rate in 2020

The study found that last year, the annual cost for a single, brand-name medication used on a regular basis was $6,600.

INDIANAPOLIS — Just about every year, the prices go up on goods and services. It's the general inflation rate.

Brand-name drug prices are outpacing the general inflation rate. Some years, it's double digits, according to a study by the American Association of Retired Persons

In the past decade, the AARP study shows that the general inflation rates ranged from .1% up to 3.1%. But brand-name drugs, those price increases ranged from 2.9% up to 13.8%.

In 2020, it was more than double the general inflation rate. 

Leigh Purvis, a co-author of the study, said their findings don't surprise her. 

"There is absolutely nothing in the U.S. healthcare system to stop drug companies from setting high prices and then increasing them whenever they want," Purvis said.

Purvis added even if you don't take medications right now, you still need to care about the prices as a taxpayer.

"When you look at taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid, their spending is going up directly because of prescription drug prices and price increases," she said.

The study also found that in 2020, the annual cost for a single, brand-name medication used on a regular basis was $6,600.

But if over the past 15 years the drug price didn't go up more than our other goods and services, the price would be much lower at $2,900.

"We think they're unaffordable now. What we'll be dealing with in the future will be even worse," Purvis said.

(Note: The video below is from a March 2021 13Investigates report.)

Saving on prescriptions

Confirm with your doctor that what you're taking is generic.

Also, compare your cost with cash-pay sites like GoodRX. The discounted cash rate might be cheaper than going through insurance.

Drug companies also offer assistance programs, so check their site for qualifications.

As for long-term price solutions, Purvis suggests contacting lawmakers to see what they're doing about it.