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Prescription Drug Costs By the Numbers

Posted on 08/02/19 by Melissa Sinden

Rx drugs

Americans pay among the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and many have to choose between buying the medications they need and other essentials. Meanwhile, brand name drug prices continue to increase at rates that far exceed general inflation. Nationally, the average annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased 57.8% between 2012 and 2017, while the annual income for Georgians increased only 9.6%.[i]

The average annual cost for one brand name drug, used on a chronic basis, was around $6,800 in 2017, almost $1,000 more than in 2015.[ii] If retail drug price changes had been limited to the general inflation rate between 2006 and 2017, the average annual cost of therapy for one brand name drug in 2017 would have been $2,178 instead of $6,798.

These unrelenting price increases could force many Americans to pay drug prices that exceed their entire income for a year, yet pharmaceutical companies remain undeterred. Pharmaceuticals spent nearly $169 million for lobbying and more than $6 billion for advertising in 2018.[iii] Nearly 80% of every Big Pharma dollar goes to something other than research and development.[iv]

It is time for Congress to take action to protect seniors and all tax payers from price gouging by drug companies. Let your legislators know how you feel. Sign the AARP Stop Rx Greed petition and urge your elected officials to support commonsense solutions to lower prescription drug prices today.

Members of Congress spend the month of August in their home districts. Call their state office and ask them to Stop Rx Greed and cut drug prices now!

[i] Based on the price associated with taking 4 widely used brand name prescription drugs. Income is based on median person-level income.
[ii] Stephen W. Schondelmeyer and Leigh Purvis, “Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Brand Name Prescription
Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans, 2017 Year-End Update,” AARP Public Policy Institute, Washington, DC, September 2018.
[iii] https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/induscode.php?id=H4300&year=2018 and https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2720029
[iv] https://www.csrxp.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CSRxP_One_pager_III_FINAL-SITERELEASE.pdf

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