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 on January 01, 2009

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

Read More

Access further information on this document at Blackwell Publishing

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether retail prices for prescription drugs are higher in poorer areas. DATA SOURCES: The 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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.