Sunday, June 16, 2024

Survey: Virginia Needs Lower Prescription Drug Prices

In an AARP survey, Virginia voters said they would support the idea of importing prescription drugs from wholesalers and licensed pharmacies and/or joining a buying pool offering prescription drug discounts. (Adobe Stock)

RICHMOND — Despite partisan divides on many issues, a new survey shows Virginia voters are like-minded about the need to do something about rising prescription drug prices.

An AARP Virginia survey found more than half of Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters favor legislative proposals to tamp down prescription costs.

One proposal would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, but a bill to create it failed in the past legislative session.

Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Loudon County, said it is important for it to become a reality in the next legislative session.

“There are too many people who are making a choice between putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their head, and lifesaving and very essential to their quality of life medication,” Delaney asserted. “We just don’t have room for those kinds of decisions in Virginia.”

The proposals would capitalize on the Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. But drug companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have filed recent lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, arguing the negotiation process is unconstitutional.

Even with skyrocketing inflation in recent months, prescription drug prices have far outpaced the growth of other sectors. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported drug prices rose at rates 32% higher than inflation.

Jim Dau, state director for AARP Virginia, described what consumers would be looking at if everyday items had risen at the same rate as prescriptions.

“A prescription drug is the poster child for runaway inflation,” Dau contended. “If a gallon of milk increased as much as a prescription drug, that gallon of milk would cost $13. A movie ticket would cost $24.31. And a gallon of regular, unleaded gas would cost $12.20.”

The survey found 68% of Virginia voters said they take prescription drugs regularly, and half of the respondents said they spend $50 per month on their prescriptions.

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