AARP's Hypocritical Study on Drug Prices

  • by: |
  • 06/02/2015
AARP has run yet another survey of drug prices, something it has done for nearly 30 years.     Since that time prescription drugs have remained about 9 percent of total health care spending, out of pocket spending for seniors has declined thanks to the Medicare Part D benefit.  Life expectancy after the age of 50 has increased faster in the United States than any other country in the world.  Studies show that faster access to newer medicines to treat cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's are responsible for 70 percent of that gain.    The call for price controls (also 30 years old) ignores the fact that people over 50 in countries where Rx prices are regulated die sooner.  They also spend more on hospitals and are more likely to be unemployed. 

It is true that out of pocket costs discourage use and force many to choose between food and medicine.  The culprits in this instance are health plans and pbms that have increased cost sharing on new drugs by thousands. 

AARP -- being an insurer as well -- participates in this immoral activity.   The claim that drug prices and drug costs drive up premiums -- including those of AARP -- is false.  New medicines for life threatening illnesses are less than 2 percent of total health spending.  A Milliman study concluded it would cost about 50 cents per person to cap copays at $250 a year.  

So instead of just publishing studies about drug prices, AARP should do the right thing and close the co-pay gap.  


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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