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Statement from Joanne Disch, AARP Board Member

Americans believe that it is time to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The Senate now has a chance to do something to make prescription drugs more affordable, but time is running out.

AARP is calling for an end to the delay of the passage of drug importation legislation. A new AARP poll found Americans are strongly in favor of prescription drug importation. Almost eight out of ten people 50 and older said they supported legalizing importation. In the same poll, 79 percent of people said that access to lower-priced drugs would play an important role in who they would vote for in the next election.

We know that this bill is not a cure-all, but it can serve to establish a competitive market and put downward pressure on drug prices that are continuing to escalate at alarming rates.

A recent AARP study revealed that from 2000 through 2003 pharmaceutical manufacturer prices to wholesalers for the brand-name drugs most widely used by older Americans increased on average at more than double the rate of general inflation. Another AARP study, released last month, found that price increases actually accelerated during the 12-month period ending in March 2004. Something has to be done. The Pharmaceutical Market Access Act would be a good start. It will allow Americans to buy prescription drugs at a substantial savings while protecting their health and safety. In fact, the horse is already out of the barn. Many people are already looking outside our country to be able to afford their medications. We need this legislation to make sure that what they are purchasing is safe and effective.

AARP strongly urges the Senate to take up the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act and pass it. Our members want Congress to enact bipartisan legislation this year to allow for legal, safe importation of lower cost prescription drugs.

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