Prescription for Disaster: Unaffordable Medications With all the advances in health care, we still cannot get a handle on prescription drug costs. This issue was brought into sharp focus during a forum on prescription drug coverage for seniors sponsored by the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the Legislative Caucus on Older Citizens Concerns. Some interesting facts were presented at this forum that will force policy makers on the state and federal level to take a second look addressing the affordability of these often life saving prescription drugs. Three facts regarding the uses of prescription drugs and our senior citizens population were particularity interesting: While senior citizens make up 12.4% of the United State\'s population, they account for over one-third of the drug expenditures. Approximately 80% of the nation\'s senior citizens take at least one prescription drug every day and fill at least 18 prescriptions per year. It is estimated that approximately 40% of Medicare enrollees have no drug coverage. Not only do senior citizens use a disproportionate amount of the prescription drugs, they are also likely to be living on limited incomes. In the United States this problem is exacerbated by the fact that drug makers charge far more in the US than abroad for the identical drugs. Manufacturers U.S. prices are 32% above Canadian prices, 60% above British prices and three times as much as Australia\'s prices. Also, drug makers give discounts to preferred buyers while people with no drug coverage are forced to make up the difference. In an attempt to justify these pricing disparities drug manufactures insist that the cost of the end product is a result of the high cost of research. Large manufacturers like Merck and Pfizer spent twice as much on advertising and marketing cost than they do on research costs.
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