Drug costs up 10 percent, a figure lower than expected

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Prescription drug costs rose by 10 percent last year, a smaller increase than expected, according to a survey of clients of the pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.
The study found that prescription costs increased by 10.6 percent in 2004 -- 3.9 percentage points lower than in 2003 and less than an anticipated 14 to 15 percent rise.
Inflation accounted for 70 percent of the cost increase, while 27 percent was the result of growing prescription use, the survey found. The remaining 3 percent came form the cost of new drugs entering the market.
The following are some examples of drug price change from 2003-2004 from the Express Scripts study:                                        *The cost of cholesterol-lowering Lipitor rose from $67.58 in 2003 to $81.76 in 2004, a price increase of 21 percent.
*The cost of heartburn medications Prilosec and Nexium rose from $59.20 in 2003 to $61.84 in 2004, a price increase of 4.5 percent.
*The cost of antidepressants Prozac and Zoloft rose from $58.60 in 2003 to $60.80 in 2004, a price increase of 3.8 percent.
*The cost of high blood pressure medicines Lisinopril and Diovan rose from $36.12 in 2003 to $41.02 in 2004, an increase of 13.6 percent.
*The cost of diabetes drugs Metforman and Avandia rose from $32.26 in 2003 to $36.31 in 2004, an increase of 12.5 percent.
*The cost of asthma drugs Advair and Singulair rose from $28.44 to $32.72, an increase of 15.1 percent.
*The cost of anti-inflammatory drugs Ibuprofen and Celebrex rose from $27.62 in 2003 to $28.86 in 2004, an increase of 4.5 percent.
The data are based on a survey of 3 million of Express Scripts' 50 million plan members.

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