Prescription drug prices are rapidly outrunning inflation rates, coverage options and people’s income, speakers at today’s AARP event in Des Moines warned.
AARP brought together their members, volunteers, advocates from other agencies and representatives for Joni Ernst and Cindy Axne to kick off their “Stop Rx Greed: Cut Drug Prices Now” campaign this morning. They highlighted the problems of having no caps to out-of-pocket expenses, the absence of low-cost generic drug options and how a lack of price negotiation power for Medicare beneficiaries are harming Iowans.
“We all know the cost of drugs is too high,” AARP’s Iowa State Director Brad Anderson said. “We’re not going to rest until we get something done.”
In his presentation to the group, Anderson pointed out the enormous profits of certain pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Roche.
When discussion opened, attendees shared their financial struggles associated with continuing to take the medication they’ve been on for some time, all noting how much costs have increased over the last ten years or less.
One women, a lung cancer survivor, shared her struggles with the medication she must take. The medication she used to be on cost $3,600 up front and $1,850 every month after for the rest of the year. After having her doctor recommend a new medication, which is mildly cheaper, she began taking a drug with an up-front cost of $2,600 and $750 each subsequent month – but her out-of-pocket costs are now more than $10,000 per year.
Another woman, whose husband is a stroke survivor, said that her employer has a coverage cap, which their family had never met until four years ago, when they finally reached it in December. The following year, they reached the cap in November, and the next year in September. This year, she said, they had already met that cap by the end of May.
One man in attendance, an AARP member himself, called out the generic drug companies for their role in the situation. Not only have generic companies been accepting “pay-to-delay” – where name-brand companies effectively pay for generic companies to put their product release on hold – he also called attention to a legal case where generic and name-brand drug companies were exposed in court documents as having worked together on raising drug prices at the same time so as to not damage one another’s markets.
Stop Rx Greed Campaign
AARP has outlined three over-arching goals for their campaign:
- Bring more generic drug options to market while tightening their regulations.
- Enact Policies: This includes banning the “pay-to-delay” tactics and creating a way for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare.
- Reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients, and set a cap for Medicare Part D.
Anderson also gave shout-outs to Ernst and Axne for their work in combatting prescription drug prices, as well as highlighting legislative victories in other states like Colorado, which set a legal limit for monthly insulin costs.
by Josh Cook