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Report Finds That 1 In 4 Mainers Will Stop Taking Prescribed Medication Due To High Cost

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The high cost of prescription drugs has led more than one in four Mainers to stop taking a medication.

That's among the figures released Wednesday by AARP Maine. As part of its national "Stop Rx Greed" campaign, the organization says it has found that in 2016 that 26 percent of Mainers stopped taking a prescribed medication because of cost.

AARP Maine State Director Lori Parhamsays the findings show that "Americans are being forced to choose between filling life-saving medications or paying rent and buying food."

“Prices are high because drug companies can charge whatever they want,” Parham says. “And that's why we're working to tackle the high cost of drugs, not only at the state level but also at the federal level.”

State lawmakers passed bipartisan legislation that starts to address the high cost of prescription drugs, Parham says.  Now AARP wants Congress to do that same.

"We're looking at options like allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and we're working to cap out of pocket costs for seniors, as well."

AARP also released figures they say show retail price hikes from 2012 to 2017 for several name brand drugs used to treat cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  The increases range from 40 percent to almost double. For example, the annual retail price per person of Aggrenox, used to treat heart disease, almost doubled from 2012 to 2017 to just under $6,000 a year.

Updated Aug. 22, 2019 at 6:02 a.m. ET.