Elderly prescription drug costs were at double the inflation rate as of the latest 2017 released statistics.
The average annual cost for widely used prescription drugs used to treat chronic conditions was nearly $20,000 in 2017. These statistics are based on an analysis of retail prices of 754 brand-name, generic, and specialty medicines.
Specifically, the retail prices for widely used brand-name medicines increased an average of 8.4 percent, and costs of specialty drugs increased by 7 percent. Specialty drugs are high-cost medicines, necessary to treat serious illnesses such as cancer.
For example, Humira, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, cost $160 a day in 2017. Revlimid, a commonly used cancer drug, had an annual cost of nearly $250,000.
On the other hand, the cost of generic medications decreased by 9.3 percent during the same time period!
And overall, the average annual increase in retail prices was 4.2 percent — twice the 2.1 percent general rate of inflation that year.
Elderly: Can’t Keep Up With Rising Drug Prices
The elderly just can’t keep up with the continuous price increases of prescription drugs. Right now, the price of these drugs are more than the average Social Security retirement benefit and it’s approaching the median income for a Medicare beneficiary.
The total cost of the medications are getting close to what some people make an entire year.
And, according to the report, if this trend continues, the elderly will be unable to pay for the drugs they need. This will lead to poorer health and higher health care costs in the future.
Specialty drugs will continue to go up in price — thus pushing up the costs. That’s because more and more people are taking these drugs. For example, more elderly people are taking these drugs for cancer and multiple sclerosis.
So far this year, 24 states have passed 36 measures designed to lower medicine prices. These laws increase the transparency of drug prices or allow the importation of drugs from Canada. Amazingly, the cost of the same prescription drugs in Canada is much lower than in the United States.