HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — As the U.S. Senate considers legislation to reduce prescription drug costs, prices in Hawaii are rising much faster than inflation.
AARP has tracked retail prescription drug prices since 2006 and found that average prices for popular drugs have risen more than 300%, and are forcing seniors on limited incomes to ration their pills or choose between medicine and food or rent.
AARP wants lawmakers to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and cap co-payments.
Masato Inaba, 80, thinks older people with limited incomes are paying the price for drugmakers’ greed.
Her co-payment for diabetes pills is $600 a month.
“It was between my shopping, remaking my income for what I can do for food. Against this medicine. I just said put it back. I couldn’t afford it,” said Inaba, who was referred to a foundation that helped pay for the medicine.
Inaba also had bladder cancer and had to undergo treatments that cost over $120,000.
“Everything is so expensive. We pay, I think, double or triple or whatever other countries pay. And that’s not right,” he said.
The insurance covered most of the costs, but Inaba still paid $13,000 out of pocket – a sum he doesn’t think most kupuna have.
“They probably won’t go to the hospital and see a doctor because they can’t afford it,” he said.
“The Kupuna are forced to choose between the medications they need to survive, and food and rent,” said AARP spokesman Craig Gima, who adds that he turned down a prediabetes drug. which he was prescribed because it would have cost him $4,000 a year. .
He believes drug pricing reform not only benefits seniors, but also taxpayers who contribute hundreds of billions of dollars a year to Medicare.
“There’s a federal law that says Medicare can’t charge lower prices for drugs. They are the biggest purchaser of drugs in the world,” he said. “But they can’t ask for a wholesale discount because you’re buying so much medicine. This law must change.
The pharmaceutical industry argued that lower prices would reduce the development of new drugs.
Gima says much of the funding for new research already comes from taxpayers.
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