Sticker shock: Some drug prices double or more

A handful of drugs have increased in price dramatically over the last few years--so much so that the U.S. Government Accountability office investigated. The GAO's conclusion? Some 416 branded meds saw their prices jump by 100 percent at least once between 2000 and 2008.

And that number is growing. In 2000, only 28 drugs saw prices double or more, the GAO report finds (as reported by the New York Times). By 2008, that number was 71. Meds such as Adderall, a Shire drug for attention deficit disorders; Wyeth and Baxter's beta blocker Inderal; and the Par Pharmaceuticals antibiotic Sumycin made the list.

What's more, 100 percent price hikes weren't the limit. Most of the big increases ranged from 100 percent to 499 percent, the Times reports. And prices on more than two dozen drugs grew by a factor of 10. The largest increase? 4,200 percent.

Don't put all the blame on pharma, however. In more than half of the individual cases investigated by the GAO, the big price hikes were made by middlemen who bought the drugs from their makers and repackaged them for hospitals or doctors, the Times notes. The report makes its debut today, so look for more stats in the days to come.

- here's the GAO's report (.pdf)
- read the NYT story