The rising cost of prescription drugs could lead to the premature deaths of 1.1 million seniors in Medicare programs in the next decade, according to a study conducted by the West Health Policy Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research group, and Xcenda, the research arm of AmerisourceBergen, a drug distributor. As Kenny Stancil reported for Common Dreams in November 2020, “Unless drug prices are reduced, the analysis estimated that 112,000 seniors per year could succumb to early death as a result of not being able to afford their medications.”
According to the same study, if nothing is done about overpriced drugs, Medicare expenses are on track to rise by $177 billion by 2030.
Despite the dire situation, there are ways to mitigate the problem, Stancil reported. Policy changes could “curb the power of Big Pharma, resulting in far fewer avoidable deaths,” he wrote.
One possible solution is to pass legislation that prohibits pharmaceutical companies from inflating the cost of drugs. Other legislation aims to allow Medicare to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies—as proposed by H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. However, as Stancil reported in November 2020, although that bill could “dramatically lower” prescription drug prices nationwide, H.R. 3 “has languished on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) since it was passed by House Democrats in December 2019.”
Source: Kenny Stancil, “ High Drug Prices Could Result in Premature Deaths of More Than 1.1 Million Seniors in Next Decade: Analysis,” Common Dreams, November 23, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/11/23/high-drug-prices-could-result-premature-deaths-more-11-million-seniors-next-decade.
Student Researcher: Jake Soch (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)