Prescription drugs have been an inevitable part of our health care system in the past years. However, the supposed benefits of the new and effective prescription drugs are weighted by its negative effect of rapid price increases. And consumers have every reason to want lower prices for drugs, especially if they are uninsured. Drug price inflation exceeds the general inflation rate. Between 1995 and 2000, prescription drug prices rose at over 1.
5 times the rate of general inflation (Gross, 2001). A study by Families USA (2004), a non-profit advocacy group, found that prescription drug costs increased at more than three times the rate of inflation from January 2003 to January 2004. AARP tracked prices for the 197 brand name drugs most widely used by seniors and found that they increased in price by 27. 6% on average from 2000 to 2003, compared with a general inflation rate of just over 10%.
AARP also found that pharmaceutical companies actually increase their drug prices more than once a year; manufacturers increased the price of 106 of the 197 drugs most frequently used by senior citizens over the three-month period ending in March 2004. The National Association of State Public Interest Research Group surveyed 559 pharmacies in 18 states and Washington, D. C. , to find out just how much uninsured consumers were paying for the 10 drugs most frequently prescribed to senior citizens, drugs that treat chronic conditions.
Those prices were then compared to what the federal government pays. On average, those who are uninsured pay 72 percent more for the medications surveyed. The differences ranged from 31 percent for Lanoxin Increasing prescription drug cost and how it affects the healthcare of millions of American’s daily Page #4 (to help control heartbeat) to 110 percent for K-Dur (a potassium chloride supplement). In dollars and cents, for example, an uninsured person needing Zocor for high cholesterol would pay at least $1,671 for a year’s supply.
The government pays only $814 for the same quantity (Gardner, 2005). A survey by Lindsay Johnson for the AkPIRG (2004) found that uninsured Americans, on average, pay twice as much as Canadians-105% more for nine of the common prescription medications we surveyed. The price differences range from 45% more for Norvasc, which treats high blood pressure, to 530% more for Premarin, a necessary hormone treatment for millions of women. An uninsured woman regularly taking Premarin would pay at least $465 for a year’s supply in the United States.
A woman purchasing her year’s supply of Premarin from a Canadian pharmacy would pay just $74—a savings of $391. This reality of surging drug prices has led uninsured consumers to ask from pharmaceutical companies to provide them with alternatives, a number of companies had given discount cards but is still limited and does not really answer the present situation. The most widely talked about alternatives are importation of drugs from other countries (Canada), and government regulation of drug prices.
The said alternatives have been acted upon by different states; several states have announced plans to set up systems to make importations legal (Illinois and Vermont) to save money for both the state and consumer (Benjamin, 2004). Pharmaceutical companies have widely opposed government regulation of prices since they claimed that it would reduce spending on research and development, hindering progress on cutting edge treatments for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Thus, this leaves the uninsured consumers no option but to resort to alternatives that might prove to be detrimental and dangerous to their health Increasing prescription drug cost and how it affects the healthcare of millions of American’s daily Page #5 like not purchasing prescribed drugs necessary for their conditions or looking for cheaper substitutes. Therefore it is in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies to at least give the uninsured a viable option to be able to manage and maintain health care at a minimal cost.