Drug companies always claim that the wholesale price of drugs is not an good indicator of what patients, insurers, and the government pay. So a new study published in JAMA Dermatology looked at the retail prices 19 brand-name prescription dermatologic drugs sold at four national chain pharmacies in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area (Costco, CVS, Sam’s Club and Walgreens) in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015.

The authors found that between 2009 and 2015:

  • Prices of all surveyed classes of brand-name drugs increased; the average increase was 401 percent.
    Prices of topical antineoplastic drugs had the greatest average absolute and percentage increase of nearly $10,927 and 1,240 percent. 
  • Prices of drugs in the antiinfective class had the smallest average absolute increase of almost $334. 
  • Prices of psoriasis medications had the smallest average percentage increase of 180 percent. 
  • The retail prices of seven drugs more than quadrupled during the study period, with the vast majority of price increases occurring after 2011. 

“Percent increases for multiple, frequently prescribed medications greatly outpaced inflation, national health expenditure growth, and increases in reimbursement for physician services,” the study concludes.

There was one surprising finding.

The price of many generic drugs also increased dramatically as shown in the following chart.