There’s nothing misleading about skyrocketing brand name drug prices

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Ask the seniors in Medicare Part D who will be paying premiums and cost-sharing in 2011 that are 50 percent higher than five years ago, even as they see no cost-of-living increase in their Social Security checks. Or ask the pharmacists, who — as the Wall Street Journal reported this week — are seeing a massive jump in the number of customers who walk away from the counter empty-handed because they can’t afford their prescriptions. During these tough economic times, more Americans are taking bigger hits to their wallets for prescription drugs to help them get and stay healthy.

In her post, Ms. Turner defends these price hikes by noting, “Seniors have a choice of brand-name drugs and generics.” But seniors do not always have a generic choice. And in fact, in 2009, she argued that generic versions of biologic drugs should be kept off the market for 12 years. That’s 12 years of denying seniors a choice if they need one of the brand name drugs Turner is seemingly fighting to protect.

It’s also worth noting that the study in question is one of a series that includes similar analyses of generic and specialty drugs, as well as analyses that look at all of the drugs together — not exactly what most people would call biased.

For years, AARP has been fighting to lower prescription drug costs and create more competition in the marketplace. We strongly supported the closure of Medicare’s doughnut hole in the health care law, but more must be done to address these enormous price increases. We’ve called on lawmakers to allow for the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs from abroad, bring generic versions of biologic drugs to market faster and allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with drug makers.

As we’ve seen the brand name drug industry do, Ms. Turner seems to be promoting the success and benefits of generic drugs while opining and lobbying consistently against policies that would put more generics on pharmacy shelves. If her post on this blog represents a sudden change of heart, we welcome her help in our effort to lower drug prices for all Americans.

 John Rother is AARP’s Executive Vice President for Policy and Strategy.