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24% of NYers 50+ Skipped Prescription Meds in Past Two Years – Most Because of Cost: AARP Voter Survey

Rx NYS survey rollout press conference 1-28-20.jpg
AARP NYS Director Beth Finkel, flanked by AARP volunteers, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, Senator Rachel May, Assemblymember Harry Bronson and Senator Alessandra Biaggi
AARP NYS Director Beth Finkel, flanked by AARP volunteers, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, Senator Rachel May, Assemblymember Harry Bronson and Senator Alessandra Biaggi

ALBANY, N.Y. – Nearly one in four New York voters age 50 and over (24%) skipped prescription medications in the last two years, with 60% of those citing cost as the reason, an AARP statewide survey of 1,200 registered voters found.

Additionally, 62% of survey respondents expressed concern about the cost of their medications, while over 80% of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters 50+ said government isn’t doing enough to combat high prescription drug prices.

To remedy the problem:
· 84% favor expanding the income eligibility criteria for the state’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC),
· 81% favor enabling authorities to take action against drug companies that charge excessive prices for essential medications,
· 75% favor allowing FDA-approved importation of lower-cost drugs from Canada, and
· 73% favor requiring disclosure of deals in which drug makers pay generic manufacturers to delay the availability of less-expensive generic alternatives.
The survey was conducted before Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a three-part proposal to crack down on drug companies’ high prices, which includes most of the key solutions supported by voters.

AARP is urging state lawmakers this session to support the Governor’s agenda, as well as expand EPIC and pass legislation sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (S5169/A7196) to shine the light on “pay-for-delay” deals.

“It’s disturbing that nearly a quarter of New Yorkers 50+ have skipped medications, in most cases because they couldn’t afford them,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “It’s literally a life and death issue. We’re grateful to Governor Cuomo for proposing a comprehensive program of solutions and to Senator Biaggi and Assemblyman DenDekker for pushing a bill to disclose ‘pay for delay’ deals. We need our state lawmakers to turn these proposals into law and to ensure more struggling New Yorkers can benefit from the very effective EPIC program.”

"For too long we have allowed pharmaceutical companies to operate under lax regulations at the expense of patients,” said Senator Alessandra Biaggi (Bronx/Westchester). “New Yorkers - and Americans across the country - are facing unacceptable costs compounded by a lack of transparency in how medication is priced.

“To maintain an expensive monopoly, brand name drug companies use pay-for-delay deals to incentivize generic manufacturers to delay the availability of more affordable alternatives. The purpose of S5169, the Manufacturer Disclosure and Transparency Act, is to hold big PhRMA accountable and shed light on the dangerous pay-for-delay agreements between the pharmaceutical manufacturers that are contributing to the unattainable cost of life-saving medicine for vulnerable aging New Yorkers. I look forward to continuing my work with AARP New York, Assemblymember DenDekker, and my colleagues to push this bill through the legislature and onto the Governor’s desk.”

“With New York’s seniors comprising the fastest growing demographic in our state, the need to ensure access to prescription drugs is only going to become increasingly urgent,” said Senator Rachel May, chair of the Senate Committee on Aging. “As the first designated ‘Age-Friendly State’ in the nation, we should not be putting older New Yorkers in a situation where they have to go without life-saving medications because the cost is too much to bear. Expanding industry transparency and accountability is one way we can begin to rein in the skyrocketing costs that keep much-needed medications out of reach for those who need them most.”

“As Chair of the Aging Committee, I am looking forward to collaborating and working in partnership with my colleagues in government, as well as organizations like AARP, to lower prescription drug costs,” said Assembly Member Harry Bronson.

“The Manufacturer Disclosure and Transparency Act is a common-sense piece of legislation that will shed some light on so-called pay-for-delay agreements that take place between brand-name drug manufacturers and their generic counterparts,” said Assembly Member Michael DenDekker. “These agreements are struck in order to delay the introduction of generic drugs into the market, allowing brand-name manufacturers to charge monopoly prices for their products without having to compete with generic drugs that often cost less.

“While this arrangement is great for the drug companies, it is no way beneficial to consumers. They lose access to generic alternatives and are forced to pay exorbitant prices for brand-name drugs. New Yorkers are already paying too much for their medication, and these pay-for-delay deals pose a threat to not only their financial stability but also to their health. Thus, the state of New York has an interest in monitoring these agreements, and this bill empowers the NY Attorney General to do just that. All we are asking for is disclosure and transparency, and that’s the least we could do to protect our most vulnerable consumers from rising drug prices.”

AARP research also shows that the cost of prescription drug treatment grew more than five times the average New Yorker’s income from 2012 to 2017 as the price for key drugs that nearly 4 million New Yorkers rely on to treat cancer, diabetes and heart disease all rose by 62% to 96%.

AARP launched a nationwide “Stop Rx Greed” campaign last year, and AARP New York is helping combat high drug costs at the federal level as well.

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Contact: Erik Kriss,

About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.


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