A new USC study reports that sudden price spikes for some generic drugs — such as the recently reported increases of a decades-old generic heart medication and an antibiotic — are becoming more common.

The study from the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, published in the October issue of Health Affairs, shows that the portion of generic drugs that at least doubled in price year-over-year represents a small but growing share of the market: from 1 percent of all generic drugs in 2007 to 4.39 percent in 2013.

“In most cases, this reflects an emerging strategy by generic manufacturers to identify and enter therapeutic areas with limited competition and raise prices substantially,” said Geoffrey Joyce, the study’s lead author and Schaeffer Center director of health policy. Joyce is also an associate professor at the USC School of Pharmacy and chair of the school’s pharmaceutical and health economics department.

For consumers, this can mean soaring costs to purchase some drugs that are life-savers, sparking public outrage and leading many to question whether the market — which has historically functioned well — is still working.

Read more at USC News