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Several drug makers celebrated the new year with substantial single-digit price hikes, while a new survey indicated that prices for brand-name medicines are expected to rise 3 percent to 4 percent annually over the next three years.

Leading the way among drug makers was Allergan (AGN), which boosted the list prices for 18 medicines by 9.5 percent, a level that allowed the company to stick to its controversial pledge to avoid double-digit price hikes. That move was made as part of a so-called social contract issued more than a year ago amid mounting anger over the cost of medicines. Only a few other drug makers formally agreed to follow suit.

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