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High Rx Costs Hammering Illinois' 50+ Population
Date:7/9/2009

CHICAGO, July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Skyrocketing prescription drug prices are stinging Illinoisans over the age 50 -- forcing nearly 20 percent to cut back on the basics, like food and utilities, in order to afford needed medications. According to a recent AARP survey, as brand name drugs see record price increases, the majority of the state's 50 plus population are worried about being able to pay for their medications in the coming year.

"No one should have to choose between filling their grocery cart and filling a prescription," said Merri Dee, State President for AARP in Illinois. "The high cost of health care is taking a harsh toll on people of all age groups - older individuals in particular are struggling with soaring prescription costs."

Key survey findings include: 63% of AARP members in Illinois are concerned about affording their prescription drugs, while close to 20% had to cut back on necessities to pay for prescriptions. Additionally 21% didn't fill or delayed filling a prescription due to cost and 18% took less than the prescribed amount to make the medicine last longer. The survey also found women and Hispanics tend to be harder hit by high drug costs than the general 50 plus population.

In the past year, prices for brand name prescription drugs increased an average of 8.7%, well past the 3.8% rate of general inflation. The increase marked the largest price jump in six years, while generic drug prices decreased by nearly 11%.

Already among the most expensive, specialty prescription drugs known as biologics, used to treat conditions that tend to affect older populations such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, saw the largest price increases at 9.3%. Currently, generic versions of these drugs are not available, leaving consumers to either pay exorbitant prices or be forced to skip the medication altogether due to cost.

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SOURCE AARP
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