Rising Drug Prices Create Crisis for Common Senior Prescriptions

Many senior Americans have suffered heart palpitations from the sticker shock of their prescription medications for decades. The pandemic has been no exception. The increase in drug prices has pushed seniors to purchase their medications from other countries with more reasonable prices, and in some cases, choose to go without their medications

The founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, David Mitchell said in a statement, “It’s outrageous, but not surprising, that against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, drug corporations have continued to raise the prices of drugs critical to keeping Americans healthy and alive.”

Common drugs targeted

Unfortunately, it has become typical for people to delay doctor appointments, ration, or even skip medication all together, because of the financial burden. Even though most senior Americans have multiple prescribed medications essential to their overall health, they are still choosing to go without. 

According to T1 International’s findings, a quarter of people with type 1 diabetes, for instance, have been made to ration insulin because of the cost. 

The report also found that 44 inpatient drugs have seen price increases during the pandemic, including 20 drugs commonly used in intensive care units, such as: sedatives, steroids, blood pressure medications, and blood thinners.

A recent West Health/Gallup poll released on June 18 found that 88 percent of Americans are concerned drug companies will use the pandemic to raise prices.

Senior Americans choose to buy meds elsewhere

Seniors with traditional Medicare and who did not have a prescription drug supplement plan have begun to buy medications internationally more often than seniors who had a supplemental plan or who were covered by a private Medicare Advantage plan, which typically includes drug benefits (Part D). 

A helpful tip: There are several online sources that allow you to find prescriptions for a cheaper price. There are many online tools, such as online pharmacies, that make the process easier. 

In another current poll from JAMA published June 24, studies found that about two million Americans (1.5 percent of adults) purchase medications outside the country to save money. 

Older adults, immigrants, and people with inadequate health insurance are most likely to turn to online pharmacies or drug stores outside American borders, where medications often cost a fraction of the domestic price. The pandemic, which has hit seniors and minorities harder than others, has financially strained thousands of families, and could lead to more people turning to international pharmacies. This, in turn, is effectively hurting the U.S. economy as well.  

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