SKY-HIGH MEDICINE COSTS FOR SENIORS MUST END

Apr 4, 2001
Press Release
WASHINGTON: "Prescription drug costs are a life and death issue for thousands of American seniors," US Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) said today upon the introduction of The Prescription Drug Fairness for Seniors Act of 2001. "We cannot just stand by and watch as drug prices skyrocket beyond the reach of seniors precisely in their time of most critical need. This is life-saving medicine we're talking about, not soda-pop and candy."

The Prescription Drug Fairness for Seniors Act will allow pharmacies that serve Medicare beneficiaries to purchase prescription drugs at the average price that the drugs are sold in other developed nations. The legislation defines the "average foreign price" as the average price that consumers pay for drugs sold in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The legislation has been estimated to reduce prices for brand-name drugs, on average, by 40 percent. Maloney is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

"Making life saving and health sustaining drugs affordable to seniors is simply the right thing to do," Maloney said. "With prices 40% lower on average for these drugs in other industrialized countries, we've got to find a way to make them more affordable to our seniors."

Maloney conducted three different studies last year in New York City showing rampant price discrimination against uninsured seniors by pharmaceutical companies, including:

Prilosec - an ulcer medication and the top prescription drug in dollar sales for 1998 in the U.S.:

Cost of one month supply in Canada:
U.S.$49.80

Cost of one month supply in the 14th Congressional District (NYC):
U.S.$121.83

Price differential:
145%

Additional annual cost to U.S. consumer:
U.S.$850

Nolvadex - most frequently prescribed breast cancer drug in the U.S.:

Cost of one month supply in Canada:
U.S.$88.20

Cost of one month supply in the 14th Congressional District (NYC):
U.S.$124.23

Price differential:
41%

Additional annual cost to U.S. consumer:
U.S.$432

"Prescription drugs are now the largest out-of-pocket health care expense for America's seniors," Maloney concluded. "On average, America's seniors fill 18 prescriptions each year, and, nationally, spending on prescription medications is increasing 15 percent annually. This Congress must not simply watch prices go out of control for products that only become necessary when seniors are sick and least able to pay."

 

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