Why prescription drug prices continues to rise so rapidly

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We talked with Leigh Purvis, from Access AARP Public Policy Institute and the Director of Health Care Costs about why prescription drug pricing continues to increase at more than twice the inflation rate since 2006.  

We took a look at prescription drug prices as part of our monthly AARP sponsored segment that highlights issues important to older adults in Arizona. 

She told us what is going on. We ask why and if it was accelerated during the pandemic. She said it actually slowed during the pandemic. 

She said they have been pushing for some policy switches. Some medications can cost as much as $6,600. She says many older Americans are talking about five different drugs a month.

We look at what medications showed some of the biggest increases. Some are drugs that treat kidney disease, anxiety, and many more. She said a lot of the ones that help people’s mental health rose. 

The drugs are not known, so we ask what reasons the drug companies are giving for these prices. She said the reality is they go up because the companies can do it, so they do.

She said they are pushing for Medicare to be able to negotiate the price for prescriptions drugs. She said the more people they “can get under that umbrella, the better.” 

We also look at inflation-based rebates if the prices increase faster than inflation. She said under the Medicaid program, there is something very similar. We look into some of the other options that may help with the outrageous prices. 

She said they would like to see some of the hard out-of-pocket caps, so people are not spending so much on drugs they need. We ask how likely the outcome of these ideas is. She said the ideas are popular and that they are pushing to get them through so she is optimistic. 

People are having to decide between the drugs they need and necessities like rent for living and food. She said the pandemic has changed a lot of the dynamics.

Leigh Purvis, Director at Health Care Costs & Access AARP Public Policy Institute

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