Brand-name prescription drug prices in upstate NY rise 93 percent in 6 years, report says
Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 4:52 pm

The average cost of brand-name prescription drugs in upstate New York rose 93 percent, from $100.57 to $194.03, between 2004 and 2010.

In the same six years, according to a report from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, the average price of a generic drug prescription rose 3.4 percent, from $19.44 to $20.11.

The report covers drug expenses calculated by Excellus from 38 upstate counties including St. Lawrence.

Excellus notes that between 2005 and 2010, brand-name drugs as a percent of all prescriptions written by physicians in upstate New York fell from 48.1 percent in to 28.4 percent, and the share of generic medicines among total prescriptions written rose from 51.9 percent to 71.6 percent.

Brand-name prescription drugs that have posted among the greatest increases in average wholesale price for a 30-day supply over the past five years include Acthar Gel (more than a 2,000 percent increase), Copaxone (131 percent increase), Entocort EC (119 percent increase), Xeloda (88 percent increase), Tracleer (77 percent increase) and Gleevec (71.5 percent increase).

“Specialty drugs constitute an entire prescription drug category that has seen a marked increase in the number of different drugs prescribed, along with hefty cost hikes,” said Arthur Vercillo, M.D. and regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

The report also notes that the higher the price of the specialty drugs, the faster its rate of increase was. From 2003 to 2010, the number of unique prescription specialty drugs that cost $500 or more per month increased 109 percent, while the number of individual specialty drugs that cost $2,000 or more per month increased 242 percent.

The report makes particular note of the costs associated with drugs to treat multiple sclerosis.

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