Members of Congress say they want to lower prescription drug prices but have yet to deliver. The Senate has an historic opportunity to help seniors afford the prescription drugs they need by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. State governments also have a role to play, and some governors and state legislatures have already passed laws creating affordability review boards, improving drug-price transparency, allowing safe drug importation and setting limits on out-of-pocket costs for specific medications, such as insulin.
Use Your Power to Decide the 2022 Election
Americans 50+ can use their vote to decide the 2022 elections. Commit today to be a Decider and join our fight to make sure candidates keep their promises to preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Americans pay more than three times what people in other countries pay for the same medicines. If other basic necessities rose at the same rate as drugs, a gallon of milk would cost $13 and a gallon of unleaded gas would be $12.20 today. Letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices is a commonsense solution to help fight inflation. The simple reason prescription drugs are so expensive is that pharmaceutical companies are free to gouge taxpayers. Unlike many other countries, the United States allows drugmakers to set their own prices, with virtually no accountability or transparency. This is even true among record-high inflation — the average retail price for 143 widely used brand-name drugs has increased more than 300 percent over the past 15 years while general inflation rose by 32 percent during that same period, according to a 2021 AARP report that analyzed the retail prices of those medications.
And drug companies spend millions to protect their profits. In 2020 alone, Big Pharma spent over $161 million on lobbying and nearly $6.6 billion on advertising.
Skyrocketing prices are forcing many age 50-plus Americans with conditions such as cancer, asthma and diabetes to choose between paying for their lifesaving medicines and paying for food or rent.
High drug prices also increase health insurance premiums, deductibles and cost-sharing for employee-provided health care and taxpayer-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This translates into higher taxes or cuts to public programs that affect all Americans.
AARP guiding principles
As you consider a candidate, keep in mind AARP’s priorities on prescription drug pricing:
- Seek Senate action to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.
- Drug prices should not rise so much faster than inflation.
- Advocate for an out-of-pocket cap on Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan costs.
- Increase prescription-drug price transparency.
- Ensure lower-priced generic drugs can get to market more quickly.
Call for Action
AARP is fighting to lower prescription drug prices and stop big pharmaceutical companies from ripping off seniors and taxpayers.
For more information: aarp.org/vote.