Letter to the Editor

Medicare cards could save money

Saturday, June 5, 2004

To the editor:

The activist group studies cited in your May 26 Associated Press article, "Drug prices 0utstrip inflation rate," require a pretty serious reality check. You've seen those statistics. Here's the reality:

Using one group's own numbers, our own study demonstrates that Medicare-approved discount cards save up to 22 percent over prices from a year and a half ago. That's right: Over and above any increases in drug prices in the last 18 months, discount cards still add up to big savings for seniors. And it's true even relative to what an anti-Medicare reform group says drugs used to cost.

More important, if they qualify, the lowest-income seniors can get an additional $600 toward prescription drug costs for both 2004 and 2005. For a couple, that's a towering $2,400 worth of medicines. And that's before the additional benefits individual pharmaceutical companies are adding on to these drug cards.

Let's keep a firm hold on reality. Seniors should check out the Medicare-approved discount cards to see if they're right for them. No one should let groups with a clear agenda steer them away from real savings on the treatments they need.

RICK SMITH

Senior Vice President for Policy, Research and Strategic Planning

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Washington