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Huge Increases in Drug Prices: Report

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The cost of 416 brand-name drugs increased at least once by 100 percent or more between 2000 and 2008, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report to be released Monday.

While most of the major price increases ranged from 100 percent to 499 percent, the prices of 26 brand-name drugs rose more than 10-fold. The largest price increase was 4,200 percent, The New York Times reported.

Drugs meant to treat depression, anxiety and other central nervous system disorders accounted for nearly a third of the drugs affected by substantial price increases, the GAO said. Many drugs used to treat cardiovascular problems or infections also had major increases.

In an e-mailed statement, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said that drugs represent only 10 percent of overall health care spending in the United States, The Times reported.

"Companies make price adjustments independently as a result of market forces, which include everything from patent expirations" to research costs associated with developing new medicines, the group said.

"It is hard to find a good-faith explanation for why drug prices could go up this much," said Sen. Charles E. Shumer (D-N.Y.), The Times reported. He said the GAO report "will lead to a strong demand for action by Congress."

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