Petition urges Congress to lower prescription drug prices / Public News Service

More than 126,000 Wisconsin residents have signed an AARP petition urging Congress to lower prescription drug prices.

According to GoodRx, an American healthcare company, the average cost of prescription drugs has increased by about 2.5% since the start of the pandemic. And in January, prices for more than 800 prescription drugs rose about 5%.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., speaking at an AARP Wisconsin press conference on Thursday, pointed out that Americans pay, on average, three times more for prescriptions than patients in other wealthy countries .

“In 2020, one in three Americans saw increased drug spending,” Baldwin reported. “It has real consequences, and that needs to change.”

Pharmaceutical companies have said high drug costs allow them to invest in research and development of future drugs, but Baldwin argued that most of the profits are likely to go to marketing, advertising and other initiatives. unrelated to research.

In a 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, more than 80% of respondents said they would support the federal government negotiating prescription costs with big pharma.

Nancy Koch, a Wauwatosa resident and retired nurse with rheumatoid arthritis, said the cost of her medications has risen from zero dollars in 2021 to more than $140 a month this year.

“That doesn’t seem like a lot, but with a limited income, it’s a lot,” Koch pointed out. “I just can’t afford it, and right now I’m charging it, but it won’t last long.”

Karen Justeson, a Wisconsin resident who takes medication for heart disease and diabetes, said last year that her doctor had prescribed her two brand new diabetes medications that had shown excellent results. But the out-of-pocket expenses became too much, forcing her to switch to a less expensive and less effective alternative with unwanted side effects.

“Lower prescription drug prices would have a positive impact for me,” said Justeson. “It would allow me to take the brand new drugs that optimize my health and my life without the pressures of high costs.”

Senator Baldwin has sponsored several measures to control prescription drug costs, including a new proposal to cap insulin costs, which she says nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016.

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