Maine Voices: Maine seniors deserve relief from high prescription drug costs

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Betsy, from Biddeford, pays a ridiculous amount of money for Eliquis, a prescription drug she needs to stay healthy and out of hospital. The exorbitant cost of prescription drugs is not a new problem for her. Betsy has spent her career as a community health nurse, supporting patients who sometimes did not take their medications as prescribed due to cost, only to end up in hospital with serious complications. However, the issue became much more personal for Betsy once she retired and learned that her own prescription for Eliquis would cost $500 for a three month supply.

More than 35 percent of Social Security recipients in Maine rely on their monthly benefit checks for 90 percent or more of their income. As inflation soars, Maineans are forced to make tough decisions about whether to fill their prescriptions, buy groceries or heat their homes. yanik88/Shutterstock.com

For Liz, from Portland, the cost of meloxicam is what keeps her up at night. Recently, she was shocked to learn that this prescription would cost her over $900 for a 30-day supply. Unable to cover that cost, Liz opted for a cheaper prescription that has more serious side effects and cannot be used long term. Betsy and Liz are not alone in this struggle. Across the state, elderly Mainers are struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need. In fact, AARP Maine gets more calls to our office about the high cost of prescription drugs than about any other topic.

To put it simply, prescription drug prices are rising at a rate that most older Mainers cannot afford. Since 2006, the price of prescription drugs has exceeded inflation.

More than 35 percent of Social Security recipients in Maine rely on their monthly benefit checks for 90 percent or more of their income. As inflation soars, Maineans are forced to make tough decisions about whether to fill their prescriptions, buy groceries or heat their homes.

Importantly, more than 40% of older Americans regularly take five or more prescription medications, and nearly 20% take 10 or more, according to a 2020 report by the nonpartisan think tank Lown Institute. It’s one of the many reasons the state’s legislative leadership, AARP Maine, and other advocacy groups have repeatedly joined forces to pass meaningful legislation to address high drug costs. prescription in Maine. In 2019 and 2021, under the leadership of Senate President Troy Jackson’s office, a series of bills were signed into law that strategically laid the groundwork for improved price transparency, affordability, and availability. medication.

While these measures take significant steps to provide relief to the elderly, states cannot solve this crisis alone. Congress has the power to get to the very heart of the problem – spiraling drug prices – and right that wrong.

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The Mainers support common-sense solutions, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which would save seniors and taxpayers billions, and finally putting money back in people’s pockets at the instead of further supporting Big Pharma’s monopoly.

Drug prices are so expensive here in Maine and across America – three times what people in other countries pay for the same drug – because drug companies are free to charge patients and taxpayers. Unlike many other countries, the United States allows drug manufacturers to set their own prices, with virtually no accountability or transparency. Earlier this year, Big Pharma raised the prices of nearly 800 prescription drugs. The truth is, they use our federal tax dollars to fund research to develop new drugs, and then they charge all of us more than anyone else in the world to buy those drugs. Big Pharma makes billions while Mainers and their fellow Americans get ripped off. It is unacceptable.

Maine seniors are fed up and speaking out. More than 31,000 people have signed AARP’s petitions demanding that Congress defend them and finally vote to lower prescription drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices.

Big Pharma has been robbing Mainers and all Americans for far too long. It’s time for Congress to fix an unfair system that is rigged against Americans, especially older ones. We are committed to working together to achieve this and to do so with urgency. Older Mainers deserve nothing less.


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