Prescription drug price increases again exceed US inflation rate

In 2012, Lynn Scarfuto was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. After surgery and chemotherapy, her oncologist prescribed the oral drug Imbruvica, a drug that costs more than $ 14,000 a month.

Scarfuto is on Medicare but said she still can’t afford the drug without a grant from the Patient Access Network Foundation and the New York State Pharmaceutical Insurance Protection Program for the Elderly. The drug has seen an 82% price increase since its release in 2013, according to a May report by the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Scarfuto is just one of many seniors in the United States struggling to pay for their prescriptions.

Branded prescription drugs, commonly used by seniors, saw the slowest average annual price increase since 2006 in 2020. However, the 2.9% increase is still double the country’s general inflation rate of 1.3%, according to one AARP report.

“We are really concerned that we are reaching a point where many people cannot afford the drugs they need,” said Leigh Purvis, director of health care costs and access for the AARP Public Policy Institute and co-author of the report.

The results, published in the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Rx Price Watch Report, showed that insurance-negotiated prices of 260 branded prescription drugs have increased on average faster than general inflation since 2006.

Minnesota No. 1; Oklahoma last:New 50-state ranking shows where seniors on Medicare can get the best health care

A single brand-name drug taken regularly and repeatedly cost more than $ 6,600 a month in 2020, according to the report, and older Americans take an average of 4.7 prescription drugs each month.

If the price hikes hadn’t exceeded inflation, the same drug would have cost $ 2,900, about $ 3,700 less.

“This is really important for someone who has a steady income,” Purvis said. “If you multiply that by the average number of drugs people use, you see a difference of $ 17,000 in the amount of drugs.” Calculation.”

If current trends continue, consumers can expect higher cost of ownership, including higher deductibles, premiums and co-payments. Drug price increases also weigh on taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare, according to the report.

For people like Scarfuto, the consequences are real.

“If drugs are specific to a particular population, what’s the point in charging $ 14,000?” Said Scarfuto, a retired nurse. “If you don’t get $ 14,000, it might as well be $ 100,000. People cannot afford to choose between food or life and taking pills. “

Comments are closed.