En español | AARP is calling on Congress to protect seniors and all taxpayers from being gouged by big drug companies. The best way to fix health care is to lower costs for all Americans, starting with lowering drug costs.
Where We Stand
• Americans depend on their prescriptions: From lifesaving cancer treatments to EpiPens, drug companies’ skyrocketing prices are pushing critical medications out of reach for those who need them.
• Taxpayers foot the bill: The hardworking taxpayers who pay into Medicare shouldn’t have to keep paying billions of dollars more so that big drug companies can hire lobbyists and run flashy marketing campaigns and continue to charge high prices.
• High drug prices affect all Americans: Expensive prescription drugs increase taxes, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
• Common-sense solutions are no secret: It's time to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices and reduce barriers to global price competition by allowing for the safe importation of lower-priced drugs. There is no reason for Americans to continue paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world.
Fighting for You
Older Americans greatly benefit from prescription drugs. Unfortunately, the high and escalating prices are increasingly putting important prescription drugs out of reach of the people who need them. And patients are not the only ones being affected. The high cost of prescription drugs affects all Americans in some way. Those with health insurance coverage will pay higher premiums, deductibles or cost sharing. Higher prescription-drug spending also increases costs for taxpayer-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This translates into higher taxes, cuts to public programs or both.
That is why AARP has long supported a wide variety of policies that would help reduce prescription drug prices. For example, we believe that the secretary of health and human services should have the authority to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of millions of Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, we believe that we should reduce barriers to global price competition by allowing for the safe importation of lower-priced drugs. There is no reason for Americans to continue paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world.
Drug manufacturers will argue that any attempt to change their way of doing business will negatively affect their ability to develop groundbreaking drugs. The reality is that such innovations will be meaningless if no one can afford to use them. And many drug companies are spending more on advertising than they spend on research. According to Kantar Media, drug companies spend $5.4 billion a year on advertising.
Here are some of the policies we’re fighting for:
- Negotiation. Medicare is prohibited by law from negotiating prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Some policy makers have proposed allowing Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.
- Importation. The U.S. pays considerably higher prescription drug prices than other developed countries. One proposal is to legalize purchasing prescription drugs from countries like Canada or members of the European Union.
- Price transparency. Drug manufacturers can currently charge whatever they want for their products with no explanation.