AP FACT CHECK: Trump on prescription drug pricing

WASHINGTON — A look at one of President Donald Trump's statements from his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and how it compares with the facts:

TRUMP: "Already, as a result of my administration's efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years."

THE FACTS: Trump is selectively citing statistics to exaggerate what seems to be a slowdown in prices. A broader look at the data shows that drug prices are still rising, but more moderately. Some independent experts say criticism from Trump and congressional Democrats may be causing pharmaceutical companies to show restraint.

The Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs shows a O.6 percent reduction in prices in December 2018 when compared with December 2017, the biggest drop in nearly 50 years. The government index tracks a set of medications including brand drugs and generics.

However, that same index showed a 1.6 percent increase when comparing the full 12 months of 2018 with the entire previous year.

"The annualized number gives you a better picture," said economist Paul Hughes-Cromwick of Altarum, a nonprofit research organization. "It could be that something quirky happened in December."

Separately, an analysis of brand-name drug prices by The Associated Press shows there were 2,712 price increases in the first half of this January, as compared with 3,327 increases during the same period last year.

The size of this year's increases was not as pronounced. Both this year and last, the number of price cuts was minuscule. The information for the analysis was provided by the health data firm Elsevier.

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