Prescription Drug Price Increase Concerning Iowans, Providers and Pharmacists

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- Prescription drug price increases went into effect on Wednesday and now more Iowans are wondering how they’re going to be able to afford costly life-saving medication.

Matthew Peirce said he struggled for weeks before going to the doctor and getting diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

“I was anemic. I lost 27 pounds in 6 weeks and I was 108 pounds. I could see all of my bones. It was crazy. That’s what I was afraid of, but more than that I was only making $15 an hour and I had a $3,000 deductible and that’s why I waited 6 weeks to go to the doctor because I was scared to death about how much it was going to cost,” Peirce said.

Now that he knows what’s wrong and has a prescription that works to keep him alive another barrier went up starting January 1 when he found out his prescription that already costs thousands of dollars went up another $400.

“I don’t know if I’m going to start losing blood again, losing weight again. It’s very scary and going up another $400 puts another barrier to me to get it. I don’t know if my insurance company will cut it off or what, so it’s scary,” Peirce said.

Pharmacist and Representative John Forbes, (D) Urbandale, said he’s seen anywhere from a five to 13 percent increase in price on certain medications and he hopes to pass legislation during the next session to help put money back in Iowan’s pockets.

“When you price it out of the area where they’re able to afford it, patients suffer and then, in turn, it ends up costing our healthcare system more because people then end up in emergency rooms or hospitals because they can’t take the medications that are vital to make them healthy,” Forbes said.

Doctors and pharmacists said they do what they can to bring the price down but sometimes it’s still not enough and patients are forced to decide between paying for their medication, paying their bills or putting food on the table.

“It’s really hard to see people suffer when we know what medications may be able to help them with their chronic conditions and when you can’t get them what they need its heart-wrenching,” UnityPoint Health Dr. Patricia Newland said.

Forbes said the reason for the price increases varies, but often companies say the money funds research for new prescription drugs.

“Those answers are often vague and many times we hear things like okay well that’s funding other research or there are some changes in maybe who owns a particular company or the deals that the pharmaceutical companies have made with individual insurance plans that change; all of those things can contribute to this price changes,” Newland said.

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