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Pharmacist on RX drug costs: "We're seeing 500% to 1000% to 2000% increases."

8:12 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILE, Fla. -- Michael Harrell said he has noticed the cost of his prescription drugs. 

"It's not getting any better. It's getting worse. It's going up," he said.

Though he has health coverage, he said in the last 6 months, his prescription has risen from about $48 to $72. He said he's having to shop around in hopes of "finding what i really can use without spending too much."

"I am angry at the fact that legitimate patients cannot get their meds," Dr. Marc Raitt, outpatient pharmacy director at Memorial apothecary said.

"So, we're not seeing five percent to seven percent. We're seeing 500%, to 1000% to 2000% increases," he explained.

For example, Raitt said Digoxin, a drug that helps control your heart rate used to be $213 per 1000 pills

"If i had to buy this now," he said holding up a bottle of pills. "It would probably cost me about $1,400- $1,500"

Raitt said birth control pills used to cost $18 now cost $40-$60 bucks. He said Dioxocycline, used to treat bacterial infections, used to be $30 per bottle of 500 pills. Now he said a bottle of 50 pills costs $276.

Michael Jackson, CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association, told FCN prescription drug costs are rising across the nation , not only Florida. Jackson said there are already some cases where pharmacies in Florida have had to close for reasons including prescription drug costs.

Raitt said, "One of the reasons I thought that we had heard was that in January, drug companies are not going to be allowed to increase prices."

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on private insurance, in 2014, issuers will have to comply with the essential health benefits, which requires that plans cover prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Senior Vice President said in part Tuesday "Costs are growing more slowly than other health care costs. In fact, IMS health projects that future growth in prescription drug spending will remain at historically low levels, and will continue to grow more slowly than overall health spending through 2017."

First For You, what can you do if you don't like the cost of your meds?

1. Talk to your doctor to see if there are any alternatives.

2. There are prescription discount cards available. Talk to your doctor about them.

3. Mempership stores including Costco offer member prescription programs that provided qualified members lower costs on a number of prescription medications.

Members at Sams Club also save on prescriptions.

Here is more information about prescription assistance in Florida provided by The Partnership for Prescription Assistance :

· Florida AIDS Drug Assistance Program

The Florida AIDS Drug Assistance Program provides AIDS-specific medications at no cost to residents who qualify.

· KidCare

Florida KidCare is the state's children's health insurance program for uninsured children 1 through 18. It includes four different parts, or programs: MediKids, Healthy Kids, Children's Medical Services and Medicaid. When you apply for the insurance, Florida KidCare will check which program your child may be eligible for based on age and family income. Some of the services Florida KidCare covers are: Doctor visits Check-ups and shots Hospital Surgery Prescriptions Emergencies Vision and hearing Dental Mental health

· Medically Needy Program

The Medically Needy program is a Medicaid program for people who have too much income or assets are over the limits for Medicaid, Some people call it the "share of cost" program. The Department of Children & Families (DCF) determines eligibility for the Medically Needy Program.

· SHINE - Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders

SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is a free program offered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and your local Area Agency on Aging. Specially trained volunteers can assist you with your Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance questions by providing one-on-one counseling and information. SHINE services are free, unbiased, and confidential.

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