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Millions in the U.S. Ration Medicine as Big Pharma Fights to Keep Prices High

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[ Photo credit: Lance Reis/ Unsplash]

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in June 2023 reveals that approximately 9.2 million people in the U.S. try to save money by rationing their medication. This study is based on data from 2021 and revealed that most adults between the ages of 18 and 64 took at least one prescription medication, but 8 percent of them—9.2 million people—rationed medicine by skipping doses, taking less than instructed, or delaying a refill.

The CDC found that the most marginalized of the working class are the ones who are most often forced to ration their medication. Almost a quarter of adults (23 percent) without insurance rationed their medication in order to save money, versus 7 percent of people with private insurance. Twenty-seven million people in the U.S. have no health insurance at all. People with disabilities were three times more likely to ration medication than non-disabled people, as well as those with fair or poor health as compared to those who were in good health. Women were more likely to ration medicine than men.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical giants like Merck are fighting tooth and nail against President Joe Biden’s limited checks on astronomical medication prices. Giving the government power to negotiate medicine prices with companies is “tantamount to extortion,” Merck argues in a recent lawsuit.

report published in November of 2022 found that one in six people with diabetes rationed their insulin. The number was one in four for Black people with diabetes. For uninsured adults, the number was one in three.

 from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

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