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Soaring Drug Prices Costing Taxpayers Billions

From 2012 to 2017, annual drug costs increased by 57.8%, but Connecticut income rose only 12.2%. (I Viewfinder/Adobe Stock)
From 2012 to 2017, annual drug costs increased by 57.8%, but Connecticut income rose only 12.2%. (I Viewfinder/Adobe Stock)
October 10, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. – Too many people need to choose between paying for food and shelter or taking their medications, according to advocates for older Americans.

A new AARP analysis shows that in recent years, rising drug prices have cost Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers $110 billion above the general rate of inflation.

According Nora Duncan, state director of AARP Connecticut, that would have covered a year's rent for 9 million American families, paid the annual cost of college for 9 million students or bought groceries for 25 million families for a year.

"That's why we're asking people to go to and tell your member of Congress it's time to take control of prescription drug prices," she states.

Duncan adds that so far this year, 25 states have passed 37 new laws aimed at lowering prices for prescription medications.

But Duncan notes that several bills aimed at controlling or reducing prescription costs failed to get through Connecticut's state legislature, including a bill to allow the reimportation of drugs from Canada.

"We are confident, however, that in 2020 we're going to be able to pass common sense, bipartisan legislation to lower prescription drug prices," she states.

The state could also pass legislation requiring pharmaceutical companies to justify price increases or explain why they are delaying the sale of a generic version of a brand name drug.

Pharmaceutical companies say drug prices need to cover the cost of developing new medications.

But Duncan points out that 40% of older Americans must choose between buying food or buying medications that may be literally a matter of life or death.

"The numbers just don't add up, and the truth of the matter is that of 10 of the major pharmaceutical companies, nine of them spent more each year on advertising than on research and development," she points out.

Duncan says Americans currently are paying the highest drug prices in the world.

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