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Executive Summary

Prescription drug price inflation through the first nine months of 1992 was 5.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Producer Price Index released Oct. 15. For the same period during 1991, pharmaceutical prices at the producer level increased 5.1%, which compares to a 6.4% inflation rate for the first nine months of 1990. Prescription drug prices at the manufacturer level in the third quarter of 1992 rose 1.1%, which compares to an increase of 0.2% for the same period a year ago. For the 12-month period from September 1991 to September 1992, the PPI for prescription drugs rose 6.8% compared to an increase of 7.2% in the comparable period of 1989-1990. While prices for prescription drug products rose slightly in the third quarter, prices for all finished goods decreased .3% from June to September. For the year-to-date, pharmaceutical price increases continue to outpace the general inflation rate: the PPI for all finished goods rose 1.1% through the month of September. Major tranquilizers led all prescription drug categories in price increases during the nine month period with a 16% rise. Prescription cancer therapy products ranked second with an 11.2% increase through the first nine months, including an increase of 2% for the third quarter. Antipruritics had the highest price percentage change for the third quarter, posting a 4.5% increase. The nine-month inflation rate for that category is 9.2%. Fungicides also rose significantly during the third quarter with a 3% increase. Hormones represented the only prescription drug category showing a price decrease during the first nine months, with a decline of 1%. For the third quarter, however, hormone prices showed a 4.1% increase. Sedatives, which led all prescription categories in price increases during the nine-month period a year ago with a 10.9% rise, rose 7.7% for the same period this year. (For a complete list of PPI drug price changes by category, see chart.) Nonprescription drug price inflation was .9% for the third quarter. Through nine months, OTC prices are up 4.3%. The biological products index, excluding diagnostics, rose .8% for the third quarter and 1.6% through the first nine months.

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