In 2012, Lynn Scarfuto was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. After surgeries and cycles of chemotherapy, her oncologist prescribed the oral medication Imbruvica, a drug that costs more than $ 14,000 per month.
Scarfuto is on Medicare, but said she still couldn’t afford the drug without a grant from the Patient Access Network Foundation and the New York State Seniors Drug Insurance Coverage Program. The drug has seen its price increase by 82% since its release in 2013, according to a May 2021 report by the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the United States House of Representatives.
Scarfuto is just one of many seniors in the United States who struggle to pay for their prescriptions.
Brand-name prescription drugs widely used by seniors saw their slowest average annual price increase in 2020 since 2006. But the 2.9% increase is still double the country’s overall inflation rate. by 1.3%, according to an AARP report.
“We are really concerned that we are reaching a point where a lot of people will not be able to afford the drugs they need,” said Leigh Purvis, director of healthcare costs and access at the Public Policy Institute of the. AARP and the co-author of the report.
The results, published in the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Rx Price Watch Report, showed that the insurance-negotiated prices of 260 brand-name prescription drugs rose, on average, faster than general inflation each year. since 2006.
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According to the report, a single brand-name drug taken regularly and repeatedly cost more than $ 6,600 per month in 2020, and older Americans take, on average, 4.7 prescription drugs each month.
If the price increases had not exceeded inflation, the same drug would have cost $ 2,900, about $ 3,700 less. –
“It’s really important for someone on a fixed income. If you multiply that by the number of drugs people take on average, you get a difference of $ 17,000 in drug costs, ”Purvis said.
If current trends continue, consumers can expect increased out-of-pocket expenses, including higher deductibles, premiums and cost-sharing. Drug price increases are also straining taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare, according to the report.
The consequences are real for people like Scarfuto.
“If the drugs are specific to a certain population of people, then what’s the point of charging $ 14,000?” Said Scarfuto, a retired nurse. “Unless you got $ 14,000, it could just as easily be $ 100,000. People cannot afford to choose between eating or living and taking pills. “