MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - “From 2012 to 2017 the average price of prescriptions here in Alabama increased by 58 percent. During that same time frame, the average income only increased 4.6 percent. The income has not increased with prescriptions to be able to afford them,” said AARP Interim State Director of Communications Evey Owen.
Data provided by AARP shows that 1 in every 3 Alabamians stopped taking prescription medication as prescribed by their doctors simply because of the price alone.
According to AARP, between 2012 and 2017 the retail price of:
- Revlimid, used to treat cancer, increased from $147,413 per year to $247,496 per year. In Alabama, 539,841 people are living with cancer.
- Lantus, a form of insulin used to treat diabetes, increased from $2,907 per year to $4,702 per year. There are 587,856 people with diabetes or pre-diabetes in Alabama.
- Aggrenox, a heart disease medication, increased from $3,030 per year to $5,930 per year. In Alabama, 206,211 people have heart disease.
Owen says this is a problem that affects everyone.
“We did find that in 2016, 35 percent of Alabamians stopped taking their prescriptions as prescribed by doctors, and that’s actually fifth in the nation," said Owen. "So, we have the fifth-highest amount of people not taking their prescriptions as they’re prescribed by the doctors just because of the high cost.”
Local residents agree that something needs to be done.
“If I don’t have the money, I just can’t take it. Right now, you’re not making the money to take the drugs, so I’ll get the next best thing to it but if I don’t have the money to take what I need, how can I take it?” said Anthony Williams.
“It’s kind of scary. No one should have to choose between taking their medication and paying a bill,” said Scott Ore.
“It’s about profit. That’s what we have to do something about. The world can’t be built on profit alone. It has to be some humanity involved,” said Michael Dixon.
According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, as of Aug. 1, 2019, 47 states had filed 272 bills to control prescription drug costs.