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AARP Highlights Struggle to Afford Prescription Drugs

One in three Americans has not taken a medication as prescribed because of the cost, according to AARP New Hampshire (Adobe Stock).
One in three Americans has not taken a medication as prescribed because of the cost, according to AARP New Hampshire (Adobe Stock).
August 12, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. – Some Granite Staters are going without lifesaving medications as prescription drug costs continue to rise out-of-pace with incomes.

AARP has launched the Stop RX Greed campaign, as a nationwide effort to press Congress, the Trump administration and state officials to take action to lower drug prices.

Todd Fahey, state director of AARP New Hampshire, says he's spoken to people across the state who've had to ration their life-saving medications, cutting doses down to half or even a quarter of what their doctors prescribed – and without their approval.

"The average cost of prescription drug treatment increased 57.8% between 2012 and 2017, but the annual income for New Hampshire residents only increased by 13.2%,” Fahey points out. ‘It's very clear that the cost of meds is greatly outpacing people's real wages and ability to pay for what they need to stay healthy."

The Stop RX Greed campaign is urging federal lawmakers to take swift action to pass the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act when they return in September from their current recess.

Last spring, pharmaceutical manufacturers Amgen, Eli Lilly and Merck sued the Trump administration over a policy to require that drug prices be included in TV ads.

According to the latest AARP survey on the topic, older Americans take an average of just over four medications, and they're paying twice as much for them as people in other wealthy nations.

Fahey says 80% of that profit is going somewhere other than into research and development for new drugs.

"Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world, and consumers need to know why,” he states. “It's a big issue in New Hampshire.

“In many cases, people are having to make a choice between filling prescriptions or buying groceries."

In the first six months of 2019, average drug prices increased 10.5%, which is five times the rate of inflation.

Fahey hopes that greater transparency will help rein in rising costs.

Disclosure: AARP New Hampshire contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Jenn Stanley, Public News Service - NH