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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