Variation in Drug Prices at Pharmacies

Are Prices Higher in Poorer Areas?

Published In: HSR: Health Services Research, v. 44, no. 2, p. 1, Apr. 2009, p. 606-617

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Walid F. Gellad, Niteesh K. Choudhry, Mark W. Friedberg, M. Alan Brookhart, Jennifer S. Haas, William H. Shrank

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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether retail prices for prescription drugs are higher in poorer areas. DATA SOURCES: The MyFloridarx.com website, which provides retail prescription prices at Florida pharmacies, and median ZIP code income from the 2000 Census. STUDY DESIGN: The authors compared mean pharmacy prices for each of the four study drugs across ZIP code income groups. Pharmacies were classified as either chain pharmacies or independent pharmacies. DATA COLLECTION: Prices were downloaded in November 2006. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Across the four study drugs, mean prices were highest in the poorest ZIP codes: 9 percent above the statewide average. Independent pharmacies in the poorest ZIP codes charged the highest mean prices. CONCLUSIONS: Retail prescription prices appear to be higher in poorer ZIP codes of Florida.

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