By Mark Richardson – Public News Service
A new report found three of four Michigan voters 50 and older take one or more prescription drugs on a regular basis, but many find it difficult or impossible to pay for them.
The AARP study of Michigan drug prices found one-fifth of those responding have not filled at least one prescription in the past two years because it was too expensive. Others say they have delayed buying a drug, rationed the medicine by skipping doses, or replaced it with an over-the-counter product.
Melissa Seifert, associate state director for AARP Michigan, said despite some recent progress on lowering drug costs, Michigan seniors said they are still paying too much.
“We know that Americans pay three times more than other countries pay for their prescription drugs,” Seifert pointed out. “Michiganders are sick and tired of paying these high prices when in other places in the world, their costs for the exact same medication are lower.”
Seifert reported about 75% of those surveyed pay about $50 a month for prescriptions, while about 25% paid $100 or more. A majority of those surveyed supported the state negotiating drug prices, requiring drug companies to disclose how prices are set, and putting a cap on out-of-pocket drug costs.
Seifert noted seven of 10 seniors support the state of Michigan establishing a wholesale drug import plan and back the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which she believes sends a clear message to Michigan lawmakers.
“Two-thirds of our respondents, which is about 64%, said that they support elected officials doing more to reduce the cost of prescription drugs,” Seifert explained. “That is going to be a top priority for AARP Michigan in this upcoming legislative session in 2023.”
In addition to health care expenses, Seifert added there are societal costs to high drug prices, leaving many seniors unable to own homes, pay taxes or contribute to Michigan’s economy.
“One thing that we always say time and time again is that prescription drugs do not work if you can’t afford to take them, “Seifert stressed. “And so, we want to make sure that we are holding these drug companies accountable for these increases that we see time and time again.”