Minority Press

(PA) Casey: Prescription Drug Prices Are Overwhelming Americans

Allegheny County Resident Testifies About Struggle to Afford Rising Costs of Prescription Medications

Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held the first hearing in a series on ways to lower prescription drug prices. The hearing entitled, “The Complex Web of Prescription Drug Prices, Part I: Patients Struggling with Rising Costs,” focused on how patients deal with rising costs as they struggle to afford life-sustaining and life-saving medications.


“Many older Americans, just like Barbara Cisek from my state of Pennsylvania, are crushed by the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs. I’ve heard stories of people rationing out doses just so they can keep taking needed medications," said Senator Casey. “No one should be forced to choose between buying their medication and putting food on the table. It’s time we pass common sense legislation to help people afford the medicines they need.”


Most people with Medicare—about 59 million older adults (ages 65 and up) and people with disabilities—live on low, fixed incomes and have minimal savings. Half of all people with Medicare live on annual incomes below $26,200. Prescription drug costs are squeezing seniors’ limited budgets –representing $1 of every $5 spent on health care costs among people with Medicare.


Barbara Cisek, of Rural Ridge, Pennsylvania, testified at the hearing about her struggle to afford her medications. Barbara is a 72-year-old retiree who is recovering from a recent stroke. Barbara has multiple chronic conditions including slow-bleed stomach ulcers, diabetes and migraines among others. “I want to be able to afford my medicines so I can stay healthy…If things keep going like they are, with drugs costing more and more, and my insurance covering less and less, I don’t know what I’ll do. I came here today to speak not just for myself, but for every other senior citizen who has had to stand at the pharmacy counter and leave something behind,” Barbara said.


On Thursday, the Aging Committee will hold the second hearing in the series entitled, “The Complex Web of Prescription Drug Prices, Part II: Untangling the Web and Paths Forward.” The committee will hear from subject matter experts and examine policy solutions that will lower the cost of prescription drugs.