Prescription drug costs on the rise
Soaring prescription prices are giving many consumers pause. It's the latest bump in the rocky healthcare road.
A survey by Consumer Reports of 1,000 people who take prescription medications finds many cutting spending in other areas so they can afford to stay healthy.
"There's a bunch of medications that have seen really, overnight skyrocketing prices," Consumer Reports Prescription Drug Editor Lisa Gill said.
In all, more than 2,000 people nationwide from all demographics, races, ages and genders were interviewed for the survey. About half of those who responded said there were currently using some type of prescription medication.
According to Gill, one-third of those surveyed experienced some type of price increase on their regular medication. On average, most prescription medication users re paying about $39 more for their prescriptions and at least one in 10 experiences a price increase of up to $100.
Gill said the unexpected cost hikes didn't leave consumers with many options. About 40 percent of the consumers they talked to are being forced to cut corners in other ways in order to have enough money left to pay for their medications.
"They told us that they are not spending as much money on groceries, for example. They might also be using their credit cards more often," Gill said.
According to Gill generic drugs have been on a steady decline in price for decades. Many manufacturers produced them and they were very cost-effective for people who were struggling with finances while taking certain prescriptions on a regular basis.
Gill said one factor contributing to the cost increases is that there are fewer generic drug manufacturers, narrowing the field of competition.
"In the last two years or so, we have seen kind of a reverse, and in some cases, there are fewer manufacturers actually making certain generic drugs. There are actually fewer generic manufacturers altogether. There has been some consolidation," Gill said, adding that the remaining companies may not make the same drugs as they did previously because they aren't making as much profit.
So, what can consumers do to avoid dealing with the increased cost of some medications? Consumer Reports says prices for prescription drugs can vary widely among independent pharmacies, grocery store pharmacies, big box stores, even member stores.
"One of the reasons that we suggest that consumers shop around if it turns out that you are faced with this massive drug price hike, is that you might be quite surprised to learn that one store might be significantly cheaper than another," Gill said.