PharmacyChecker president and co-founder, Gabriel Levitt, spoke at the New York Retirees Association of District Council 37 September 2018 meeting about the prescription drug price crisis in America. Retirees learned about the politics and policy of high drug prices and how to fight back against Big Pharma. He also covered how older Americans can get help when they can’t afford medications.
As drug prices at local U.S. pharmacies, especially for generics, vary greatly, the first recommendation is to make sure you’re getting the lowest prices locally. There are discount cards, patient assistance programs, drug company co-pay coupons, state programs, and extra help from the federal government for low-income Medicare enrollees.
There is also the lifeline of personal drug importation from safe international online pharmacies, of which older Americans should take advantage when they can’t afford a medication here in the U.S. Gabe explained that it’s technically prohibited under federal law, although no one is prosecuted for doing so.
With around 200-300 members in attendance, the members didn’t hold back in expressing shock at the numbers surrounding the current state of drug prices in the United States vs. the rest of the world. Commonly prescribed drugs that many uninsured or under-insured Americans can’t afford are sold for much less in Canada and other countries. According to Kaiser Health News, eighty percent of Americans believe the prices of prescription medications are unreasonable.
All countries are facing problems due to the rising costs of brand-name medication, but the scope of the problem in terms of access is far worse in the U.S. Eighteen percent of Americans are not filling prescriptions because of cost, compared to just 2% in the UK and 4% of France. Canada is actually at 10%
Real People, Real Stories
After the presentation, Mr. Levitt answered questions about drug savings and advocacy.
One retiree showed us her pharmacy bills for Janumet, Farxiga, and Jardiance. To her surprise, with the lapse of just one month, her Janumet bill had increased by 90% at her local pharmacy. She said she carried around the bills in her purse because most friends didn’t believe such an increase was possible. Hopefully, she can find help among the programs mentioned above; if not, she can find relief through international pharmacy savings.DC37, NYC, Retirees