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New Report: High Prescription Drug Costs Exacerbate Health & Economic Disparities for Latinos

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, UnidosUS Action Fund and Lower Drug Prices Now released a new report, A Vicious Cycle of Health Inequity, that highlights the disproportionate impact of high prescription drug prices on Latinos in the US, and shows that Latinos overwhelmingly want their elected leaders to take action to lower drug costs. 

The report highlights that because Latinos in the US are more likely to live with chronic health conditions that require prescription medicines to stay healthy, and are more likely to be uninsured, they are disproportionately impacted by high prescription drug costs. The report includes specific actions that Latinos support to lower drug costs, including making prescription drugs developed with taxpayer dollars affordable, limiting drug companies’ monopoly power to set prices on drugs, and giving Medicare the power to negotiate prices, and more. 

The report comes as the pharmaceutical industry raised prices on 813 of its most popular drugs in just the first half of January, using their monopoly control over prices to gouge patients for necessary medications in the middle of a public health crisis and economic recession. 

Support for progressive measures to significantly lower prescription drug prices is extremely high,” said Rafael Collazo, Political Director of UnidosUS Action Fund. “And any candidate — Democrat or Republican — that’s hoping to run or defend their seat in 2022 should understand that the cost of prescription drugs will be a primary issue for Latinos across the country. Candidates from both parties will need to break away from the status quo of protecting industry profits over the health of constituents if they want the support of Latino voters.” 

“Just as we have witnessed through 11 months of this pandemic, Latinos continue to be on the frontlines of an unequal healthcare system,” said Margarida Jorge, Campaign Director of Lower Drug Prices Now. “Big Pharma has spent decades working against any effort to re-write the rules allowing them to game the system, and keep drug prices high while patients struggle to afford the medications they need. Latinos are part of an oversized segment of the public that is ready for Congressional leaders to hold drug corporations accountable, and bring an end to their monopoly control of drug pricing.” 

Among the report’s findings:

  • While the Latino population is young, demographic data show that they fall squarely into the group most vulnerable for reliance on high-cost prescriptions.
  • Latinos are more likely than their White counterparts to live with chronic illnesses that require prescription drugs, like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
  • When drug corporations set high prices, many Latinos—who often lack insurance and contend with low wages—are forced to make tough trade-offs to make ends meet.
  • As the COVID pandemic rages on, challenges to accessible medication have expanded for Latinos, with newly released COVID-19 treatments coming with a high price tag despite the use of taxpayer dollars to develop the drugs and tremendous community need.
  • The COVID pandemic has raised the urgency for Latinos, who overwhelmingly support long-overdue reforms that increase accountability for drug corporations and lower the cost of prescription drugs so that every person who needs them can afford them. 

See the full report, including the policy recommendations for lawmakers, here

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