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According to a new AARP study, generic drugs are a better bargain than ever, and the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit has not held down the cost of branded pharmaceuticals. The senior group reported that brand name drug prices climbed nearly 4% during the first 3 months of the year?the biggest jump in 6 years. Generic drug manufacturers, however, have held the line on their prices during that same period.The result: a wider-than-ever price gap between branded and generic prescription drugs.
Researchers for AARP surveyed the wholesale price of 197 brand name and 75 generic drugs. A separate study by Families USA found that the median wholesale price for the top 20 drugs prescribed to seniors rose by 3.8% from November 15, 2005, to mid-April. AARP said the sleep medication Ambien showed the heftiest price increase?a 13.3% jump for the 5-mg strength, in addition to a 20% hike the year before.