Prescription Drug Prices Are Still Growing Faster than Inflation

The prices we pay for prescription drugs are still growing faster than the inflation rate, according to statistics from the University of Minnesota and AARP. However, there are some ways to curb those costs somewhat.

Retail prices for 227 brand name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans increased by an average of 12.9% during 2013. Meanwhile, the general inflation rate for the year was 1.5%.

These figures come, via AARP, from the latest Rx Price Watch report from Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer at the University of Minnesota.

Double-digit inflation in the cost of prescription medicines translates into higher government spending – on programs like Medicare and Medicaid – and less-generous prescription drug benefits from employer-provided health plans. For people who must cover these costs on their own, the effects of these price increases can be devastating.

There is no single fix for reining in these costs, but there are some things people can do to mitigate them.

Karen Pallarito, in her article appearing on, recently offered “15 Tips for Saving Money on Prescription Drugs.” As Pallarito suggests, one of the most basic things people can do to contain prescription drug costs is to be honest and open with their doctors about their need for affordable options.

Being honest about the impact these costs have on your budget can help avoid situations where you’re being prescribed medicines you don’t really need. Your doctor may also take care to find cheaper, generic alternatives to branded prescription drugs. If you ask, your doctor may also offer you samples of the drugs you need.

A little research into your insurer’s policies can also go a long way toward curbing costs. Pallarito suggests that you check your insurer’s formulary, since different brands of the same drug may require very different copayments. Have your doctor offer his/her three top drug options, then check with your insurer to see which of those three choices will cost you the least amount out of pocket.

Another common trick for stretching your budget is to ask your doctor for a double-strength prescription, and then split the pills in half. Getting 25 pills of a given drug at 1,000 mg strength each can often cost less than the 50 pills at 500mg each that your doctor was originally going to prescribe.

You can find Pallarito’s full article here:,,20536027,00.html

We’ll see if prescription drug inflation continues to be in double digits in 2015, but the inflation of recent years has already pushed the cost of these medicines past the point of affordability for many people. Hopefully these tips may help you to keep more money in your pocket this year.

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