Sen. Ruth Johnson speaks at Detroit rally about bill to reduce prescription drug costs

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Monday joined U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and other state leaders at an AARP Michigan rally in Detroit to highlight efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

“Michigan patients continue to struggle to afford the inflated prices of lifesaving and quality-of-life prescriptions,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “The cost of more than 3,400 prescription drugs went up in just the first six months of this year — with 41 drugs increasing by over 100%. My bill would allow Michigan consumers to save money on their medications and still ensure quality and safety.”

Senate Bill 525 would allow Michigan to establish a Canadian drug importation program for the express purpose of reducing the cost of prescription drugs for Michigan consumers.

The bill would require the state to work with the federal government to implement the program and maintain drug safety protections.

Johnson highlighted the measure during an AARP Michigan rally along the Detroit River to spread awareness about the high cost of prescription drugs and efforts to address the problem. Joining Johnson, Stabenow and Dingell at the rally were AARP Michigan State Director Paula D. Cunningham; U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Rashida Tlaib; and state Reps. Hank Vaupel, Kevin Hertel and John Chirkun.

“We are here today to support legislation that would take the first steps toward enabling importation of prescription drugs from Canada,” Cunningham said. “It is shameful that big drug companies are selling drugs in America that could be 10 times more expensive than those identical drugs sold in Canada.”

According to AARP Michigan, the annual cost of prescription drug treatment rose 57.8% between 2012 and 2017, while annual incomes in Michigan increased only 10.9%. Surveys indicate one-third of Michigan residents who are prescribed medications do not buy them, citing affordability as the top reason.

“It really isn’t right that people can’t afford their medications, and they’re not taking them,” Johnson said. “I know someone who passed away because they could not afford them. We need to do everything we can to ensure that never happens again.”

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