Published Online: Saturday, July 1, 2006

Investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have uncovered considerable variations in the prices paid for prescription drugs by hospital pharmacies.

According to the GAO, the lowest prices were scored by large teaching hospitals in urban locations. Small, nonteaching hospitals in rural areas paid the highest prices, the investigators told Congress.

"Major teaching hospitals paid prices that were an estimated 3.2% lower than those paid by nonteaching hospitals for ‘specified covered outpatient drugs,'" the agency reported. In contrast, "rural hospitals paid prices an estimated 4.4% higher than those paid by urban hospitals for radiopharmaceuticals," and "large hospitals paid prices an estimated 1.4% lower than those paid by small hospitals."

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