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Rising prescription drug costs have an impact on health and budgets

GoodRX: Price increase for 816 drugs in 2021
Rising prescription drug costs a concern for health and budgets
Posted at 5:11 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 08:54:49-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — As we work to rebound from the impacts of the pandemic there's a growing concern about price increases of prescription drugs people depend on. News5 takes a deep dive into those price increases and what pharmacy experts have to say about it.

Many people who rely on prescription drugs are also on fixed incomes, so price increases impact people's ability to be healthy and make ends meet. The pandemic has impacted so much about our daily lives, but pharmacists tell me when it comes to prescription drugs the pandemic isn't slowing down wide-ranging price increases impacting people from all walks of life.

Healthcare company GoodRX tracks prescription drug prices. This year at least 816 prescription drugs have increased in price by an average of 4.5 percent. Compare that to 639 drugs with price increases in 2020 and 486 drugs with price increases in 2019.

News5 spoke with local pharmacist Barry Patterson at the Medicine Shoppe in Colorado Springs about the price increases and his concerns.

"I think at the end of the day the transparency really starts with the insurance companies. What the insurance companies are actually charging the patient and what they are actually reimbursing us. There has been a big gap in there and as a pharmacist, I call and question a price and they can't tell me where they are getting that price," said Pharmacist Barry Patterson.

During his three decades on the job, Patterson says he's seen prescription drug prices increase regularly. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed 3 in 10 people impacted by rising prescription costs are not taking their medicine as prescribed, are skipping doses, or are cutting pills in half to try to get by.

"Since I've been in the pharmacy for over 30 years it seems every July and every January there was a market increase of some sort. We try to be the neighborhood pharmacy. We will talk to patients, we will see if maybe their doctor needs to change their medication to something similar that's less expensive for them. That's important to us. That's important to the patient," said Patterson.

Some steps you can take to save money would be to work with a pharmacist to see if you can switch to a cheaper drug in the same class. Also, ask about manufacturer coupons and in some cases getting a year supply of a drug can actually save you money in the long run.

Drug companies say supply chain issues and a decrease in medical procedures during the pandemic are factors in pricing, but there is a big push by pharmacists for more oversight and transparency on what is causing these price increases.