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Minnesotans Seek Rx for Drug Prices

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According to the United Nations, U.S. spending on pharmaceuticals is at least 30 percent higher than in other high-income countries. (Kiran Foster/FlickR)
According to the United Nations, U.S. spending on pharmaceuticals is at least 30 percent higher than in other high-income countries. (Kiran Foster/FlickR)
 By Laurie SternContact
February 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As the price of prescription drugs keeps going up and Congress provides no solution, states are beginning to take matters into their own hands.

States have regulatory authority and the economic power to buy medicine in bulk. So Seth Boffeli, communications director for AARP Minnesota, says it's time for states to act as a counterweight to the market.

"These drugs just arbitrarily go up overnight and there's no justification and there's no requirement that the big pharma company provide a rationale for what most people believe is just price gouging," he states.

AARP Minnesota is holding three community forums to compare notes and explore steps the state could take to curb skyrocketing prices.

The first discussion is at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Duluth. Two others are planned in Fergus Falls and Rochester before the Legislature convenes at the end of the month.

For more information, visit AARP.org/MN.

Boffeli says since Congress shows no inclination to address what is really a national problem, about a dozen states are exploring ways to change the status quo on their own.

For instance, Minnesotans could benefit from lower drug prices in Canada.

"The state could set themselves up as a wholesaler and then begin bulk buying medications from Canada,” he explains. “And one way this could have a big impact is on our state Medicaid population."

Boffeli says not only would consumers save on their insurance premiums, but taxpayers would benefit from lower Medicaid expenses.

He expects legislators to listen as more Minnesotans realize they can do something about out-of-control drug prices.



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