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Critics Question Drug Price Increases

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The wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs in the United States increased by about 9 percent in the last year, a sharp contrast to the 1.3 percent decrease in the Consumer Price Index.

Critics say drug companies are trying to establish a higher base price before Congress passes legislation to slow drug spending, but drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases, The New York Times reported.

With the increases, the average yearly cost for a brand-name prescription drug taken daily has increased by about $200 to more than $2,000, according to Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the University of Minnesota.

"When we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases," he told The Times.

Drug companies claim the price increases are necessary to maintain the profits they need to invest in research and development of new drugs.

"Price adjustments for our products have no connection to health care reform," Merck spokesman Ron Rogers told The Times.

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