AARP Keeps Up Focus on Drug Prices

AARP is still urging lawmakers to address prescription drug prices in a Wednesday report, even as the topic is set to take a back seat to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

The report warns that seniors could stop taking necessary prescription drugs if prices continue to rise.

“Current market forces have not moderated excessive brand name drug price increases and the resulting increases in pharmaceutical expenditures are not sustainable,” the report says.

The prices of 268 brand name drugs most commonly used by older Americans rose 15.5 percent in 2015 over the previous year, according to AARP. Still, drug prices reached a high in 2014.

Retail prices for 97 percent of the 268 most widely used brand name drugs increased last year, the report finds. The average annual retail price increase in 2015 for the 286 treatments was more than 130 times higher than the rate of general inflation that year.

AARP urged lawmakers to take action on drug prices, a topic of considerable focus on Capitol Hill over the past year. Ahead of the election, it was a top health policy concern for voters. President-elect Donald Trump said he wants to address drug issues, and there’s appetite among GOP senators to do so. A Republican effort on drug prices will likely seek to increase competition in the market, such as easing barriers to bringing generic versions of drugs to market.

Holly Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said AARP used “flawed methodology” that’s been criticized for “misrepresenting the dynamics of the competitive marketplace” for prescription drugs.

She pointed to a Quintiles IMS Institute report that found net prices for medicines increased 2.8 percent in 2015 after factoring in discounts and rebates that payers negotiated with drugmakers.

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