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Also some brand-name drug prices are increased shortly before their patents expire and they become available as generics. Prevacid, for example, is going off-patent in November.
Rother said the increases make the case for policy changes such as allowing the government to negotiate drug prices or reimportation of drugs from other countries so Americans can pay the lower prices typically charged elsewhere.
AARP is also eager for Congress to address the notorious "doughnut hole" in the Medicare drug benefit. That's the gap in coverage -- included in the 2003 law to keep down costs -- that occurs once the cost of a patient's prescriptions exceeds about $2,700. Patients have to cover the next $4,350 on their own until Medicare coverage kicks in again.
AARP's report said that generic drug costs fell an average of 10.6 percent in 2008.
A government survey released in February that counted all prescription drug expenditures, including generics, found that costs grew 3.5 percent last year. That was a slowdown from 2007 that federal economists attributed to increased use of generics and people filling fewer prescriptions because of the recession.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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