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‘Stop Rx Greed’ Campaign Targets High Prescription Prices

AARP's 38 million members across the country are taking on the drug companies over high drug costs with TV, digital and radio advertising, grassroots action, social media and events.

 AARP has launched a federal and state level campaign to stop drug companies from price gouging. Sam Shumway, state director of AARP Wyoming, says the cost of health insurance in Wyoming ranks in the top five nationally, largely as a result of rising drug prices. 
The average Medicare beneficiary has a median income of $26,000, but Shumway says people with chronic conditions are paying more than $13,000 a year out-of-pocket for medicine.

"There are people who are making these tough decisions, whether to buy food or whether to pay for their prescription drugs," he states. "And so we're calling on Congress, we're calling on state legislators to take action, to get the exorbitant and out-of-control drug prices under control."

A recent AARP poll found that more than 70 percent of likely voters age 50 and older are concerned about drug costs, and 90 percent say Congress should reverse rules banning Medicare from negotiating for lower prices. 

Drug companies have long argued that high-profit margins are necessary for research and development, and say those investments have led to significant innovations.

Shumway notes that because pharmaceutical companies also are able to leverage tax dollars through federal grants and public universities, there needs to be transparency and accountability.

"Show what your research and development costs are," he stresses. "Show us what you're spending on advertising and let's make sure that you're not fleecing the public. 

"They're making billions of dollars. They should be able to make money, but not on the backs of people who can least afford to pay for these drugs."

The campaign also calls for giving state attorneys general the authority to crack down on large price increases, and closing loopholes that keep lower-cost generic drugs off the market. 

In 2015, Medicare beneficiaries spent $27 billion in out-of-pocket drug costs. 

Nationally, the U.S. spends twice as much on health care as other comparable countries.