Hundreds of prescription drug price increases to start 2020

Brace yourself before you head to the pharmacy. Effective New Year’s Day, several drug companies raised the prices on hundreds of prescription medications. We broke down what this price hike means for your health and your wallet.

Prescription drug companies raise the prices of medications annually, and, this year, it might be too much of an increase for many in Southwest Florida.

“Just have to tighten my belt,” said Milton Douglass in North Fort Myers. “That’s all I can do.”

Along with others, Douglass is worried the cost of medicine will be too much for him to afford in 2020.

“I’ve enjoyed living down here for 20-something years,” Douglass said. “And I don’t want to have to go back and live with any of my kids.”

But Douglass told us his wants and his joys don’t matter when it comes to surviving, and  millions of others share his fears.

“This year, they’re increasing the prices upwards of up to 10 percent,” said Robert Hawkes, the founding director of FGCU’s Physician Assistant Program. “But most of them around four to five percent.”

Prices hiked up for more than 200 drugs New Year’s Day, from HIV and multiple sclerosis treatments to arthritis and asthma medications.

Hawkes explained we should expect to pay more on newer and popular drugs such as those seen in commercials.

“This is to cover their costs of research,” Hawkes said. “Costs of developing the drugs, costs of marketing, which unfortunately just gets passed on to the consumers.”

Tish Gilbert, a breast cancer survivor in Port Charlotte, said that can be painful if not life threatening.

“I had three pills I needed to take every other week going up to my chemotherapy,” Gilbert said. “They were $400.”

This year, one breast cancer medication is expected to go up by 5%.

“And I had insurance,” Gilbert said. “That’s the thing. Insurance isn’t the get all. It still costs you.”

The climbing cost of prescription drugs is already a key issue in the 2020 presidential election.

The full list of drugmakers hiking prices on prescriptions does not appear to have been released yet. We will continue to look at the U.S. medical system in depth this year.

If you have a personal experience, whether it’s a high bill, an insurance dispute or something more, send us an email at [email protected].

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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