Advocates say Congress could take meaningful steps to lower prescription drug prices

Politics

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 News) – Rising prescription drug prices are putting seniors across the country, and here in Utah, in a bind.

That’s why advocacy groups are calling on Congress to take some bold steps to get costs in check.

“Medicare beneficiaries day in and day out are choosing between whether or not to buy groceries, whether to pay their utility bills, or whether to purchase prescription drugs,” said Danny Harris with AARP Utah.

The organization is keeping a close eye on how lawmakers are responding on behalf of 224,000 seniors in our state.

There are a lot of ideas being floated, but AARP says some of the proposals are far better than others when it comes to truly driving down costs.

They say allowing Medicare to negotiate its own prices would make a real difference.

Harris says the program spends more than $129 billion a year on prescription drugs, and that mass quantity provides leverage.

“We feel like Congress should give Medicare that authority so that they can negotiate for better drug prices on common name brand drugs that Americans may be paying twice as much for as residents of other countries,” he said.

They say another key is to increase access to generic drugs, and they believe an effort to eliminate a common practice will go a long way in doing that.

“We’d like to see Congress ban these ‘pay for delay’ agreements where brand name drug manufacturers are essentially paying generic manufacturers to not produce those drugs, to not produce generic drugs,” said Harris.

AARP also backs efforts to import cheaper drugs from other countries.

State Representative Norm Thurston has been trying to clear the way for Canadian drugs in Utah, but so far that bill has failed.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 Utah team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 Utah News at 4 Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time.. Read More...

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