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Hispanics and African Americans Among Those at Risk Due to High Cost of Prescription Drugs

80% Support Legislation Requiring Drug Manufacturers to Report Spending on Marketing to Doctors


Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560,

The high costs of prescription drugs led many Hispanics and African Americans to take desperate measures, like delaying filling a prescription or skipping doses, according to a new AARP national study of adults 18+. The study also found a high level of support in the Hispanic and African American communities for state legislation to make prescription drugs more affordable.

"High drug prices mean more than stressing a family budget. Too many people put their health and the health of their families at risk when they cannot afford their drugs," said AARP Director of Public Policy John Rother. "Four of every 10 Hispanics or African Americans have difficulty paying for their drugs, which is why nearly nine in 10 people in the Hispanic and African American communities support state legislative fixes. Our job—and the job of our elected officials—is to address this problem with the urgency a crisis of this magnitude demands."

Hispanics had the most difficulty paying for prescription drugs with more than four in ten saying they had problems paying for a prescription in the past year; while 38 percent of African Americans experienced difficulty paying for drugs. When asked about their ability to pay for prescription drugs over the next two years, 61 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of African American expressed concern.

Health insurance coverage is an important factor in the ability to pay for prescription drugs. The U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, indicated that the uninsured rate for Hispanics was 32.7 percent and 19.6 percent for African Americans. Further, African Americans are more likely to have public insurance coverage through programs such as Medicaid and Medicare Part D. Hispanics, however, are more likely to pay full retail price without the benefit of any discount for prescription drugs.

The report also found a majority support state legislation to help bring down drug prices. For instance, over 87% of Hispanics and African Americans support state legislation to allow the states to do bulk purchasing for prescription drugs and pass the savings on to those without adequate drug coverage. A large majority, over 81% of Hispanics and 79% of African Americans, support legislation that would require drug manufactures to report their spending on marketing to doctors.

The AARP telephone survey examined the experiences of 2,000 ages 18+ Hispanics and African Americans in paying for prescription drugs and their interest in legislation addressing pharmaceutical issues. The complete study is available at: AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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