Prescription drug prices increased by 152 percent over the last decade, while the general inflation rate was 58 percent, according to Sen. David Pryor.

Pryor, D-Ark., chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, also reported that from July 1989 to July 1990 prices for medications rose 10.2 percent, compared to a 4.8 percent increase for all other consumer goods."Prescription drug price increases that double or triple the general inflation rate force many poor and elderly Americans, the most vulnerable of our nation, to choose between needed medications, food, utilities and other essentials," Pryor said.

Pryor said the price increases have forced many state Medicaid prescription drug programs to increase payments to beneficiaries, to reduce the number and type of drugs covered and to sharply reduce pharmacy reimbursement.

He said these programs often pay 40 percent to 60 percent more for the same medicines bought by hospitals, private health care groups and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Pryor is seeking support for legislation to help states get discounts for prescription drugs. The bill would require drug manufacturers to negotiate if they don't provide discounts for state Medicaid programs.

Pryor said his plan would result in savings of $1.5 billion over five years.