Rising drug prices causes concern for affordability

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - As the calendar turned to 2019, drug makers increased the prices of more than 250 prescription drugs. As costs go up, people are finding it increasingly more difficult to get the medications they need.

“The people this is going to hit the hardest is the elderly because they take more medication and also people with chronic illnesses because they are paying medication bills maybe up to 5,000 a month,” Central District Health Department Health Director Teresa Anderson said.

The Trump administration and Health and Human Services said they are proposing policies aimed at lowering drug prices and would pass on more discounts from insurers. But those measures are not expected to provide short-term relief.

This year's increase is less than previous years, but popular medications are still being targeted.

“Pharmaceutical companies I think right now feel like they have an opportunity to capitalize on the volatility of the market and I think they are sensing in the future their profit margins are going to get tighter so they are trying to get the prices high right now,” CHI St. Francis Pharmacy Director Doug Richling said.

CHI Health is working to start manufacturing their own generic drugs to help bring the prices down for their patients.

Rising drug costs are not the only thing making it hard to get medication.

“Because insurance costs are increasing, the amount the consumer or patient is going to pay has gone up as well,” Anderson said. “Then what we are finding is the co-pays for medications are increasing as well so it makes it difficult for folks in this area or across the country to afford those medications.”

Anderson says she has heard of people even rationing their medications to save money or they stop taking them all together.

“And it's really important folks continue with their medications,” Anderson said.

There is still no timeline of when CHI will start manufacturing their own drugs, but they hope it will be soon.