Specialty Drug Cost Exceeds Median Family Income

The average annual cost of a specialty medication used on a chronic basis exceeded $53,000 in 2013.

Retail prices for more than 100 widely used specialty prescription drugs increased nearly 11 percent in 2013, surpassing the median income of an American family, according to a new AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) report.

The average annual cost of a specialty medication used on a chronic basis exceeded $53,000 in 2013. This cost was greater than the median U.S. household income of $52,250, more than twice the median income of $23,500 for people on Medicare, and almost three-and-a-half times higher than the average Social Security retirement benefit of $15,526 over the same time period.

The study also found that in 2013, the average annual cost for specialty prescription drugs was 18 times higher than the cost of brand name prescription drugs and 189 times higher than the cost of generic prescription drugs.

“Specialty drugs are among the most expensive on the market, and are expected to be the fastest growing group of drugs over the next decade,” said Debra Whitman, PhD, AARP’s Chief Public Policy Officer. “These exorbitant prices and price increases can be financially disastrous, especially for people on fixed incomes. Americans cannot continue to absorb the astronomical costs associated with these products indefinitely.”

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