Jun 1, 2000
Press Release

NEW YORK - Today, at the East Side Animal Hospital, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) released a study revealing a whopping 150% price differential between prescriptions sold to humans on one hand and animals on another. At the press conference beleaguered New Yorkers - many of them seniors on Medicare - explained that they are unable to afford the skyrocketing prices for their prescription medications. Meanwhile, local veterinarians detailed just how inexpensive the same drugs are for cats and dogs.

Maloney called for legislation that ensures equity in pricing for all U.S. residents (H.R.1885) and called for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients (H.R.1495). The following are excerpts from Maloney's comments at today's event:

New York City seniors are getting ripped off by drug companies.

My new study shows a whopping 150% price differential between prescriptions sold to humans on one hand and animals on another. These are the same drugs, at the same dosages. While drug companies reap record profits and receive government subsidies, NYC seniors pay high prices and often go without needed medications. More than 23 million Americans covered by Medicare have no insurance for prescription drugs or they lack consistent, dependable coverage. One striking fact from my study illustrates the injustice: uninsured seniors in the city who use Lodine - a popular arthritis medicine - are charged $108.90 a month on average while drug companies offer it for dogs at $37.80 a month. Another drug - Vasotec - used for high blood pressure - costs $78.55 when prescribed for humans, and $51.30 when prescribed for dogs. That's a difference of more than $325 dollars a year. These price differentials are wrong and unfair and they provide further evidence that drug companies are discriminating against our most vulnerable senior New Yorkers. Thousands of people cannot afford these prices and are forced to go without needed medications. That's why it is so vital to pass legislation that will give equity to seniors. Our seniors shouldn't have to wait another day to get the drug coverage they so desperately need."

Several seniors and veterinarian attended the press conference and shared their own stories:

Rita Reznik explained how she takes seven pills of her medicine Neurontin a day and pays $1 for each pill. "I pay $2660 for my medicine after the discount. I'm not being taken, but it's really a bit much for an old lady to be paying, for anyone to be paying."

Jean Krampner also articulated the high prices of prescriptive drugs for seniors in New York City. "My primary care physician suggested that I take Vioxx for arthritis. I take two a day and it costs $86 for thirty tablets. Mrs. Krampner went on to state that " it is difficult for people living on a limited income. I think the bill in Congress is a good idea. People need to know about this issue."

Dr. Manning of the East Side Animal Hospital also supported the results of the study. "People come to me wanting prescriptions for medication for themselves and they complain about how animals receive better care. As a veterinarian I cannot prescribe medicine to humans, yet the drugs the animals receive are the same drugs made by the same manufacturer."