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AARP Members Call on Congress to Rein In Big Pharma


Monday, November 8, 2021   

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - After the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill late Friday, AARP is calling on lawmakers to pass the Build Back Better Act, which among other provisions would clear the way for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug makers.

Tom Lacock, associate state director of AARP Wyoming says members have called and emailed Congress more than 1.5 million times this year, with more than 300,000 emails and 9,000 phone calls in the last few days alone.

"At AARP we really have to thank our members that took the time and made the calls and the emails to Congress," said Lacock. "That action shows how important of an issue this is to our membership and all older adults."

The drug industry has long argued that high profit margins fuel research and development, which has produced significant advances in medicine.

But researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering found that revenues from drug companies' top 20 medicines pay for all of their annual research and development, and still result in a profit of some $40 billion.

The Build Back Better Act would also cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors at $2,000 per year, and limit a patient's insulin costs to $35. Lacock said his team will not stop until the president signs legislation that helps reduce drug prices.

"Now is really the time for Congress to deliver to their constituents by passing this Build Back Better Act," said Lacock, "because we think it will lower the price of prescription drugs and make life better for millions of Americans."

The average price for medicines used to treat complex, chronic conditions rose more than three times faster than the cost of inflation in 2020, according to AARP data.

Lacock said, if passed, Build Back Better would be a big win for Wyoming's older residents.

"There's no bigger issue affecting the pocketbooks of seniors on Medicare than the costs of prescription drugs," said Lacock. "We know for decades seniors have been at the mercy of Big Pharma, and allowing Medicare to finally negotiate drug prices is a really huge win for seniors both in Wyoming as well as around the country."

Disclosure: AARP Wyoming contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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