Rising prescription drug costs are causing many people to skip their medications


SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – Thousands of Utahns depend on prescription drugs to stay healthy, but the cost of many drugs is rising, twice the rate of inflation. The growing inaccessibility of prescription drugs is leading many people to make the dangerous choice of not filling their prescriptions.

Louann and Daniel Wilkins face a tough choice. Since January, Daniel has been taking Nuplazid, a drug that reduces hallucinations in people with Parkinson’s disease.

“The episodes are not as frequent and less severe,” Louann Wilkins said. “We are able to talk about things when he has his episodes.”

Nuplazid is also incredibly expensive – a supply of 30 capsules costs $ 4,165.

Louann and Daniel’s insurance covered $ 700, and help from a foundation brought their monthly co-payment down to $ 379. But now the foundation’s money has run out.

“We would not have filled the prescription for the drug if we had known we had to pay this exorbitant amount,” Louann said.

Louann and Daniel Wilkins (KSL TV)

The Wilkins are far from alone. 22.9% of people interviewed by Gallup said they couldn’t afford to refill a prescribed medication at least once in the past 12 months.

“The reality is that prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them,” said Leigh Purvis, director of health services research at AARP and Drug Pricing Studies. arrangement. “And, we kind of get to those tipping points where people have to choose between the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy and other important things, like food and rent, and what not. isn’t really a decision anyone should have to make. “

In his latest RX price watch report, AARP found that the retail prices of 260 widely used brand-name drugs rose 2.9% in 2020, more than double the rate of inflation.

“This is what we like to call ‘relentless pricing behavior’, where we only see these price increases year after year, with no sign of slowing down or leveling off with the price increases we see for other goods and services, ”Purvis said.

She said research shows Americans pay three to four times more for their brand name prescription drugs than patients in other countries.

“There is nothing to stop it from happening,” Purvis explained. “There is really nothing in the American health care system to stop drug companies from setting very high prices and then raising them whenever they want. “

As for keeping costs as low as possible in today’s environment, Purvis recommended asking your doctor for generic alternatives or non-prescription options.

She also said to check if mail order is cheaper and look for discount apps or coupons.

“Another really important item for Medicare beneficiaries is the supplemental health program, which can cover a lot of your out-of-pocket expenses and premiums,” Purvis added.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs – if you qualify, you can get prescription drugs very cheaply or even for free.

The Wilkins received free samples of Nuplazid through their doctor, but these will only help them out for a few months.

Once they are exhausted, Louann said Daniel should probably stop taking the drug.

“Some days are very good and some not so good,” Louann said. “And he’ll ask, ‘Well, what’s my goal? And I said, ‘Your goal is me and my goal is you.’ And so, we are in the same boat.

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