Elected Officials are Not Doing Enough to Lower Prescription Drug Prices According to AARP Study

Posted on 11/11/20 by Rachel Auerbach

AARP New Jersey released data today that finds the vast majority of New Jersey voters, regardless of party affiliation, feel elected officials are not doing enough to address the high cost of prescription drugs. Among registered voters age 18-plus in New Jersey, nearly three-quarters (74%) believe drug companies are too concerned about making a profit and not concerned enough about helping people.

“Too many Garden State residents are choosing between filling life-saving prescriptions and paying rent, buying food and meeting other critical needs,” said Crystal McDonald, AARP New Jersey Associate State Director of Advocacy. “Lowering prescription drug prices is especially important as COVID-19 has caused widespread unemployment and people losing their health insurance. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them.”

In New Jersey, a large portion of registered voters are impacted by high prescription drug prices, with the vast majority (79%) reporting they or someone in their household have taken prescription drugs in the past two years. Three in five say they are concerned about the cost of their medications.

“Seven years ago my son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease,” said Lisa Matthews, a New Jersey resident. “He initially took an oral medication, which was helping, until his insurance wouldn’t pay for it. He switched to a different oral medication that did not work for him. After careful consideration, he decided to start Remicade infusions. He gets these infusions every eight weeks, and his insurance is billed $35,000 for each one. Under his current health insurance, he pays a $4,000 deductible, but his insurance could change in the future. No one should have to pay that much for life-saving medication. It’s time our legislators do something about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.”

A vast majority of registered voters in New Jersey support proposals aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, and feel elected officials are not doing enough to lower prices, according to the study. Across party affiliation, more than eight in ten New Jersey voters who participated in the survey support the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to look closely at prices.

AARP New Jersey applauds State Senators Troy Singleton, Loretta Weinberg, Linda Greenstein and Shirley Turner and Assembly members John McKeon, William Moen, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey and Thomas Giblin for their leadership on establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board would be an independent body that evaluates drug prices and sets limits on how much certain payers, including state agencies, will pay for high cost prescription medications. A Prescription Drug Affordability Board will help ensure pricing decisions are reasonable, justified and support improved consumer access and affordability.

“What this survey shows is that now more than ever, we must work together to make medications more affordable and accessible,” said State Senator Troy Singleton. “Prescription drug affordability is a problem that is not going away and has only been exacerbated by the pandemic due to unemployment and other financial stressors. I am hopeful that the Legislature will soon act upon our proposal to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board because New Jersey’s seniors and others who rely on prescription drugs shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”

“It is not all that surprising that so many New Jersey residents are concerned about prescription drug prices,” said State Senator Loretta Weinberg. “I hear from my own constituents about the concerning rise in drug costs every year. I believe a Prescription Drug Affordability Board is a critical step toward making these drugs affordable for all who need them, and I am proud to stand with AARP New Jersey and my fellow legislators to support this legislation.”

AARP New Jersey urges the Legislature to prioritize S1066/A2418 to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board and to help lower prescription drug costs for Garden State residents. It’s time we stop paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world.

Visit here to view the full AARP “2020 New Jersey Residents 18-Plus Prescription Drug Study.”

This story is provided by AARP New Jersey. Visit the AARP New Jersey page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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