Minnesota senators reiterate need for affordable prescription drugs

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith spoke about the need for laws to lower drug prices with the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) Thursday.
State director Carla McLeer provided a petition with 89,000 signers, and called upon the senators to pass legislation to lower prescription drug costs and allow Medicare to negotiate with drug manufacturers for better prices.
They hardly needed convincing.
Klobuchar helped introduce the Affordable Insulin Now act Thursday, which would cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin users at $35 per month. Last year, she helped reintroduce the Stop STALLING Act to prevent companies from paying generic drug manufacturers not to make more affordable versions of branded prescriptions.
Smith introduced the Affordable Medications Act in May of 2021, which would also drive down prescription drug costs.
Ken McInnis, an AARP member from Ham Lake, said he spends about seven percent of his union pension on Humira, which controls his psoriasis.
When he became a Medicare member in 2014, a three-month supply cost him more than $1,400 after insurance.
By February of 2021, the prescription’s price had increased by 245 percent.
“My share increased to three thousand, sixty dollars and 65 cents,” McInnis said. “That’s a 38.5 percent increase per year in my out-of-pocket costs.”
And that’s only one prescription, for a condition that, while painful and unsightly, is not lethal.
According to the AARP, the average senior in Minnesota takes 4.7 prescription drugs every month. Brand-name drugs can cost more than $6,000 a year – each.
Drug manufacturers rake in 65 percent of profits in the healthcare industry, Smith added.
“These big companies are making a ton of money at the same time that one in four Americans are struggling to afford their life-saving medications,” she said.