Congress urged to act on rising drug prices

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Published Monday, October 25, 2021
by Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) The average price for specialty prescription drugs - medicines used to treat complex, chronic conditions - rose to more than $84,000 in 2020, more than three times faster than the cost of other goods and services, according to new AARP data

Bob Murphy, state director of AARP Colorado says U.S. consumers pay far more for medicines than in any other developed nation. 

"It is outrageous that Americans pay at least three times more for the exact same prescription drugs," said Murphy. "And these are drugs made, in many cases, by American-based companies."

The latest AARP analysis found that 29% of Coloradans stopped taking their medicine because of cost. The drug industry has argued that high profit margins help underwrite their research and development costs, which have produced significant advances in medicine.

Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers found that revenues from drug companies' top 20 medicines pays for all their annual research and development, and still result in a profit of some $40 billion. 

Murphy noted that Big Pharma has plenty to invest in marketing and convincing lawmakers to pass industry-friendly legislation.

"The pharmaceutical companies spend $161 million a year on lobbying," said Murphy. "They spend $6.6 billion a year on advertising. All you got to do is watch the nightly news to see that."

AARP is urging Congress to reverse a law that prohibits Medicare from leveraging its considerable purchasing power to negotiate with drug companies, among other reforms, to lower prices.

"Medicare, which buys $129 billion a year worth of prescription drugs, cannot negotiate pricing," said Murphy. "And we're asking that Congress pass a law that allows Medicare to negotiate pricing."

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