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Lawmakers Urged to Take Action on High Prescription Costs

The average older American takes 4.5 prescription drugs per month.  (Burlingham/AdobeStock)
The average older American takes 4.5 prescription drugs per month. (Burlingham/AdobeStock)
April 15, 2019

HARTFORD, Ct. — "Stop the greed and cut drug prices now." That's the messages seniors want state legislators to hear.

AARP Connecticut hosted an interactive Telephone Town Hall meeting late last week to discuss high prescription drug prices with the co-chairs of the General Assembly's Insurance and Real Estate Committee. According to Anna Doroghazi, associate state director for advocacy and outreach at AARP Connecticut, the United States has the highest brand-name drug costs in the world, and that is putting the health of people in Connecticut at risk.

"We're hearing from seniors who are rationing their medication so that they can stretch those dollars just a little bit further,” Doroghazi said. “We've also heard from folks who have told us, 'I'm not going to take my medication because the prices are too much for me to pay.'"

House Bill 7174, introduced this year, would create a state prescription drug program and form a task force to look at importing drugs from other countries where prices are lower. Doroghazi pointed out the bill also would penalize pharmaceutical companies that engage in a practice that forces consumers to keep buying expensive brand-name medications.

"It would take a look at a practice called ‘pay-for-delay,’ which refers to techniques that pharmaceutical companies use to pay their competition to not bring lower-cost generic drugs to the market,” she said.

In 2017, the average annual cost for one brand-name medication used on an on-going basis was almost $6,800.

Doroghazi said action is needed on the federal level too. For example, the Veterans Administration, which can negotiate for better drug prices, pays 80 percent less for brand-name drugs than Medicare's prescription drug program.

"Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country, and since they're not able, by law, to negotiate prices, we see prices driven up across the entire health-care market,” Doroghazi said.

AARP has launched a nationwide campaign to combat high prescription drug costs. More information about that campaign is available online at AARP.org/rx.

Disclosure: AARP Connecticut contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT