While in office in Arizona, I heard anecdotes about impossible decisions families are forced to make due to out of control prescription drugs. costs. Horrible choices like deciding to buy essential drugs or pay the rent, shop for groceries or pay the utility bill. It’s a choice no one living in a country as prosperous as the American should have to make.
Here in the Arizona Senate, Democrats have worked find solutions to relieve patients. But our families, our seniors and our small businesses – struggling with drug costs – also need important solutions that can only be provided at the federal level. level. That’s why we need our representatives in Congress, especially the Senses. Krysten Sinema and Mark Kelly, to resist the powerful influence of pharmaceutical companies and adopt reforms that will tackle the prescription drug affordability crisis and bring the people of Arizona in great need of help.
In January 2021, drug makers raised the prices of 822 brand-name prescription drugs. Six months later, in July 2021, an additional prescription of 67 brands drugs have increased their price. A recent report from the AARP Public Policy Institute showed that between 2015 and 2019, on average 90 percent of the 50 most popular drugs among Medicare Part D beneficiaries increased their prices at higher rates than the rate of inflation. These targeted price increases have a huge impact on my district because 10.6 percent of my constituents are 65 or older. And the repercussions are being felt statewide as we have 1.3 million Medicare recipients across Arizona.
The pharmaceutical industry argues that its pricing practices are necessary to support the development of new drugs and that claim solutions aimed at reducing drug prices would put innovation at risk. But earlier this year, a report of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that investments in research and development of a drug ultimately have no impact on how drug companies determine its price.
In particular, Congress should cap out-of-pocket spending on the elderly, prevent drug companies from raising drug prices at rates above inflation, and discourage price hikes by giving drugmakers large amounts of money. cost-sharing responsibilities for seniors who reach the highest level. level of coverage under the Part D program. These solutions have already gained enough support in the US House to move forward – the impetus is now on the Senate to act.
I urge Senators Sinema and Kelly to join the growing majority Americans who support immediate action to hold brand name drug companies accountable and lower the prices of life-saving drugs. Sinema and Kelly have promised results on this issue. Congress must address the cost of prescription drugs.
During my tenure in the Arizona legislature, I have seen few issues as devastating to our communities as the out of control drug prices. It’s time for our elected officials in Congress to make sure this problem is resolved this year, so families no longer have to make impossible decisions just to line the pockets of pharmaceutical executives. It is time to reject the deceptive rhetoric of the brand name drug industry. The people of Arizona need results on drug pricing solutions now.
Lela Alston is an Arizona State Senator representing District 24.