En español | As someone involved in nursing for the past 40 years, I have seen up close the toll on older adults when they can’t afford the drugs they need. So I was pleased when the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee selected the high cost of prescription drugs as the subject for its first hearing of the new Congress. And I was honored to be invited to testify.
As I told the panel of lawmakers, “Our members consistently tell us they cannot afford the medications they need and are forced to make difficult choices as a result.”
AARP is a fierce advocate on behalf of older adults struggling to afford the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. We have heartbreaking stories to tell, compelling statistics to share and a clear message for Congress and the president: It is long past time to rein in high drug prices.
Our “Rx Price Watch Report” found that the retail price of brand-name drugs increased more than 8 percent in 2017 — four times the rate of inflation. Price increases for these drugs have exceeded the rate of inflation since at least 2006. Virtually all the manufacturers we track raised their prices over the past 12 years. Older adults are especially vulnerable. Medicare Part D enrollees take an average of 4.5 prescriptions a month.
We sometimes hear that drug companies must charge high prices to pay for innovation. But innovation doesn’t help if drugs aren’t affordable.
AARP believes that there are commonsense solutions to soaring drug prices. Congress should give the secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate for lower Part D prices. It should pass the bipartisan CREATES Act, to stop drug companies from delaying or blocking access to less expensive generic or biosimilar drugs.
And it should cap consumer costs on prescription-drug spending. States can also take action to lower prices by, for example, enabling state attorneys general to take legal action against prescription-drug price gouging; authorizing states to import safe, lower-priced drugs from other countries; and capping what a consumer pays out of pocket for drugs. Tell our elected leaders it is time to act.
To learn more, go to aarp.org/Rx.