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The Heartbreak of Drug Pricing

Frank Davidoff, MD, Editor
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Dr. Davidoff: American College of Physicians–American Society for Internal Medicine, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Requests for Single Reprints: Frank Davidoff, MD, American College of Physicians–American Society for Internal Medicine, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Ann Intern Med. 2001;134(11):1068-1071. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-134-11-200106050-00014
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It can hardly be a mystery why the price of prescription drugs in the United States has become such a contentious issue (1). The figures speak for themselves. The average price of drugs per prescription among older persons rose 48% between 1992 and 2000, and drug expenses now consume 14% of the average Social Security benefit, up from 8% in 1992. The prescription drug costs incurred by some 850 000 older Americans who lack insurance that covers drugs are more than $2000 per year (2). The increased cost of prescription drugs accounted for the largest share—44%—of the total increase in health care costs in 1999, a year in which, according to one report, the net income of internists fell by over 10% (3) and academic health centers began feeling the effects of multibillion-dollar cuts under the Balanced Budget Act.

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