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Drug Prices Increase Well Above Inflation Rate: AARP

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Prices for the most widely used brand-name drugs in the United States rose an average of 8.7 percent in 2008, well above the general inflation rate of 3.8 percent, according to the AARP's annual report released Wednesday.

The drugs that had the biggest increases included: the acid reflux drug Prevacid (30 percent), the depression drug Wellbutrin (21 percent), and the sleep drug Lunesta (20 percent), the Associated Press reported. The AARP looked at the prices of the 219 most popular brand-name drugs.

"Just about everybody in today's economy is feeling some economic pressures, and it does not help that the drugs you take to keep healthy are much more expensive than last year," John Rother, public policy director of the senior citizens' lobby group, told the AP. "I think this makes the case for health reform."

However, the AARP also found that prices of generic drugs fell an average of 10.6 percent in 2008, and that increasing numbers of seniors are switching to generic drugs.

The AARP report is "one-sided" and focuses too much on certain brand-name medicines, said the drug lobby group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the AP reported.

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