Variation in drug prices at pharmacies: are prices higher in poorer areas?

Health Serv Res. 2009 Apr;44(2 Pt 1):606-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2008.00917.x. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


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: We 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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Florida
  • Income
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics*
  • Pharmacies / economics*
  • Poverty*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations