ALBANY, N.Y. – The cost of prescription drug treatment grew more than five times the average New Yorker’s income while the price for key drugs that nearly 4 million New Yorkers rely on to treat cancer, diabetes and heart disease all rose by 62% to 96% from 2012 to 2017, new AARP research shows.The result: one in five adult New Yorkers stopped taking prescribed medications, mainly due to cost.
Meantime, AARP found that increases in brand name drug prices more than offset any decreases in generics, so that in 2017 average retail prices for 754 widely used prescription drugs still grew at twice the inflation rate.
The campaign is both national and nationwide, and AARP New York is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to include a comprehensive state plan to combat high drug costs as part of his 2020-21 executive budget proposal – including allowing the safe importation of prescription drugs at far lower costs from Canada.
“It is unconscionable to me that I and many others with life-threatening diseases have to consider paying exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs in our country,” said Barbara Werner of Snyder, Erie County, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 26 years ago at age 35. She said she can buy a bottle of Apidra insulin for $45 in Canada but must pay anywhere from about $290 to nearly $600 for the same medication in New York. “Even though the Canadian option is not technically legal, it is the only one I and many others have,” she added. “This needs to change.”
“Now is the time for bold action,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “Governor Cuomo has shown he will fight to improve New Yorkers’ lives; he pushed through the strongest paid family leave law in the nation and an historic increase in the minimum wage, among many other achievements. We need him to step up again to keep down the unsustainable increase in prescription drug costs that is making life-saving medications unaffordable for too many New Yorkers.”
AARP found that the average annual cost of prescription drug treatment grew by 57.8% between 2012 and 2017 while the annual income for New Yorkers increased by just 11.5%. With nearly four million New Yorkers battling cancer, diabetes and heart disease, the cost of Remlivid to treat cancer skyrocketed by 68%, Lantus to treat diabetes grew by 62% and Aggrenox to treat heart disease ballooned by 96% during that time.
AARP is urging Governor Cuomo to propose in his next state budget:
· Allowing more middle-income older New Yorkers to access the state’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program, which subsidizes the cost of prescription medications;
· Allowing for the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs at a far lower price than New Yorkers must now pay, with federal drug safety certification;
· Empowering the state attorney general to prosecute drug-makers for price gouging, and;
· Requiring pharmaceutical companies to reveal “pay to delay” deals in which they pay to keep lower-priced generic drugs from reaching the market sooner – about 17 months on average.
AARP is also among three dozen organizations urging the Governor to sign the “Mid-Year Formulary Bill,” which passed both houses of the Legislature last June and would prohibit out-of-pocket prescription cost increases to health plan enrollees in the middle of a contract year (S2849 – Breslin / A2969 - Peoples-Stokes).
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
This story is provided by AARP New York. Visit the AARP New York page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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