Clinton unveils prescription pricing study

July 1, 2000

Pharmaceutical Representative

President Clinton, Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) unveiled a report by Washington-based Families USA, a non-profit lobbying organization, which shows that, on average, the price for the 50 drugs most commonly used by seniors increased at nearly twice the rate of inflation during 1999. "For over a year now I have been arguing that we as a nation ought to use this historic moment of strength and prosperity to meet our long-term challenges, especially the challenge of helping all our seniors afford prescription drugs that can lengthen and enrich their lives," said President Clinton on the day the report was released. "More than three in five American seniors today lack affordable and dependable prescription drug coverage. Today's report shows that the burden on these seniors is getting worse."

President Clinton, Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) unveiled a report by Washington-based Families USA, a non-profit lobbying organization, which shows that, on average, the price for the 50 drugs most commonly used by seniors increased at nearly twice the rate of inflation during 1999. "For over a year now I have been arguing that we as a nation ought to use this historic moment of strength and prosperity to meet our long-term challenges, especially the challenge of helping all our seniors afford prescription drugs that can lengthen and enrich their lives," said President Clinton on the day the report was released. "More than three in five American seniors today lack affordable and dependable prescription drug coverage. Today's report shows that the burden on these seniors is getting worse."

In addition, the Families USA report found that:


•Â Prices of the 50 prescription drugs most frequently used by the elderly rose by nearly two times the rate of inflation during calendar year 1999. On average, the prices of these drugs reportedly increased by 3.9% from January 1999 to January 2000 (versus 2.2% for general inflation).


•Â Seniors with common chronic illnesses often spend more than 10% of their income on prescription drugs.

"Seniors living on fixed incomes simply can't cope with these kinds of price increases forever," said the president. "That's why we should take action to help them and do it now. In my budget, I propose a comprehensive plan to provide a prescription drug benefit that is optional, affordable and accessible for all. A plan based on price competition, not price controls; a plan that will boost seniors' bargaining power to get the best prices possible; a plan that is part of an overall effort to strengthen and modernize Medicare so we will never have to ask our children to shoulder our burden when the baby boom generation retires."

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said the Families USA study was incomplete and failed to take into account the larger picture. "Families USA ignores the fact that the 50 medicines, both brand name and generic, help keep patients out of the hospital, off the surgery table, on the job and at home," said Alan F. Holmer, president and CEO of PhRMA. "We wish Families USA would put away its election year rhetoric and join us in working to expand access to prescription drugs for America's seniors through a strengthened and improved Medicare program." PR

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