WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It was a packed house on Arsenal Street in Watertown on Thursday.
North country leaders and residents were waiting for the arrival of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand introduced a plan to help lower the price of prescription drugs
“This is an issue that affects so many people,” she said. “Thirty percent of adults say they have not taken their medicine as prescribed in the last 12 months due to cost.”
Gillibrand says she is supporting a package of bills in the U.S. Senate that would ensure everyone can access the medicine they need.
The bills will seek to bring down the price of medications to model other countries such as Canada, negotiate lower prices for prescriptions under Medicare Part D, and allow patients and pharmacists to import affordable medicine from outside the U.S.
Jefferson County Office for the Aging director Kathleen Kazakoff says these measures could be a game changer
“Being in health care for so many years, I saw people rationing their medications,” Kazakoff said. “Physicians could give out samples sometimes to get a patient started on a med but once the samples ran out, many do not fill the prescription because of the cost.
Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith echoed the same, especially in his other job as a physician’s assistant.
“And it’s amazing that some plans will cover certain medications and others won’t,” Smith said. “I cannot possibly track what plans covers what, it’s impossible.
Over the past year during the pandemic, Gillibrand says drug makers raised their prices by an average of 5 percent, pocketing over $44 billion.
It’s a problem she says needs to be fixed.
“The fact that there is no rhyme to the reason, everything just seems to be random and made up and there is no fairness,” she said, “so we need to guarantee health care as a right and part of that is getting control of prescription drug prices.”
Gillibrand says with a Democratic majority in the Senate, she hopes these ideas will have a better chance of being discussed.