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Long Island Seniors Rally for Rx Affordable Prescription Drugs and Cell Phone Protections

PLAINVIEW, N.Y., Over one hundred Long Island AARP members gathered today to rally state lawmakers to pass legislation before the end of the 2007 Legislative Session in Albany that will help make prescription drugs more affordable and help assure that their cell phone works in an emergency. The AARP members took their message directly to their legislators during a "whistle stop" bus tour of Nassau and Suffolk counties that stopped at more than over 15 district offices of state senators and assembly members.

"We are visiting district offices in both counties to call on our legislators to support legislation that will help New Yorkers who are struggling to pay for prescription drugs and provide consumer protections for cell phone users," said Volunteer Regional Coordinator for AARP on Long Island and Muttontown resident, Adele Klenk. "The State Senate and the Assembly have until the end of June to pass this legislation -- an excuse of running out of time is not acceptable".

Pharmaceutical companies spend over $7 billion a year on gifts, such as meals, trips and entertainment, to doctors to persuade them to prescribe newer and, in many cases, more expensive drugs when generic and less expensive alternatives are just as effective. According to a report in the April 2007 New England Journal of Medicine, 94% of doctors report having some type of relationship with pharmaceutical companies.

"We want to be sure that the drugs that end up in our medicine cabinets are there for the right reason -- because they are best drug for the best price, not because of a slick sales pitch and a nice meal," said Klenk.

AARP supports legislation that will shine the light on gifts from the pharmaceutical industry to doctors by requiring drug companies to report all gifts to doctors over $75.

Last year, the bill passed overwhelming in the Assembly with bipartisan support. However, under pressure from the drug industry, th e Senate failed to act on the bill.

The members are also calling for action on the NYS Wireless Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by Senator John J. Flanagan (R-Smithtown). The bill will require cell phone companies to provide more detailed maps of where a cell phone works. The bill will also require companies to disclose all fees and will allow customers to cancel their contracts after receiving their first bill, without paying a penalty.

"AARP commends Senator Flanagan for sponsoring this much needed consumer protection bill. Most seniors buy a cell phone to use in case of an emergency. Improved maps and disclosures will allow them to know whether or not their phone will work in a certain area," said Bill Hall, a Setauket resident and Volunteer Regional Coordinator for AARP on Long Island. "In addition, many people on fixed incomes are finding themselves locked into unaffordable contracts because the amount billed is frequently higher than the advertised price."


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