Drugs used by U.S. seniors rising in cost

An inflationary, some would say "price gouging" increase in U.S. drug prices could have implications for Canadian seniors in the future. An independent study released by the White House this week found that the price of the 50 drugs most commonly used by senior  citizens rose at nearly twice the rate of inflation last year.

The study by the nonpartisan Families USA consumer group found that prices of the 50 prescription drugs used most frequently by older Americans rose 3.9 percent on average over the last year, when inflation was 2.2 percent. The prices of newer drugs skyrocketed. Drugs made over the past six years saw a cumulative price increase of 30.5 percent, twice the rate of inflation.

Since about half of the U.S. senior population is without a drug plan, the price increases are coming right out of many people’s pockets. President Bill Clinton has been pressuring Congress to start a prescription drug plan for seniors, many of whom are now taking special “bus tours” to nearby Canadian cities and towns to have their prescriptions filled at our lower prices.

“Seniors living on fixed incomes simply can’t cope witthese kinds of price increases  forever,” said Clinton. “That’s why we should take action to help them and do it now.”

Canadians with comprehensive drug plans shouldn’t feel smug about their good fortune, however. Many of the large pharmaceutical companies are distressed at the “low” prices we have here in Canada, and are pressing their political representatives to try and force Canada to allow higher drug prices, on a par with the U.S.