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Drug Prices Still Rising Despite Congressional Scrutiny

Rising prices of prescription drugs are having a big impact on the nation's seniors. (Pixabay)
Rising prices of prescription drugs are having a big impact on the nation's seniors. (Pixabay)
December 20, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Despite increased scrutiny by Congress in the wake of the EpiPen scandal, prices for brand-name prescription drugs are on the rise. That's according to a new AARP study, which found that in 2015, the average cost for a single non-generic drug now exceeds $5,800 a year, compared to just $1,800 in 2006.

Tim Lockwood, associate state director of AARP Wyoming, said because many drugs are not available in generic form, seniors have no option but to pay up.

"From 2006 to 2015, we have seen the price of those brand-name prescriptions increase by two and a half times," he said. "And compared to inflation, it's 130 times faster than the general inflation of the economy."

Pharmaceutical companies say price increases are necessary to recoup research and development costs. The AARP study found the cost of the average American's 4.5 prescription drugs per month is nearly $26,000 a year, $2,000 more than the median income of people enrolled in Medicare.

Lockwood said rising prices are particularly hard on people living on a fixed income because they mean higher out-of-pocket costs, especially for seniors who pay a percentage of drug costs rather than a fixed co-payment, as well as higher premiums and deductibles.

"While they might have good insurance and they might have co-pays that are fairly low, when you see a retail price increase like that, they're still experiencing an increase in what that co-pay is," he added.

Lockwood added that if rising prices aren't reined in, all Americans will eventually be affected by higher taxes to cover increased burdens on Medicare and Medicaid.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY