PHOENIX — There are few pharmacies in Arizona like Melrose Pharmacy in Phoenix. It's small, locally owned, and does not have a drive-thru window.
On average, staff prepares 180 prescriptions a day.
Teresa Dickinsen has been the pharmacist at Melrose for 16 years; she joined in 2005. Over time, she's seen how the increase in prescription drug prices has impacted her customers.
“As long as drug corporations have exclusive control over prices and don’t have to negotiate, they will continue to raise the prices and extract all the profit they can from patients, employers, and taxpayers,” she said.
She believes the Biden Administration's $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better Act," which the U.S. House of Representatives passed last week, will help lower the cost of prescription drugs. The U.S. Senate still needs to vote on it.
The bill's passage is a key component of President Joe Biden’s health, social, and environmental agenda.
Dickinsen joined Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego in calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the bill.
“This bill alone will save Arizonans millions of dollars in prescription costs,” Gallego said.
In Arizona, the price of one of the medicines used to treat diabetes rose $3,000 between 2015-2020. There are nearly a half million Arizonans living with diabetes.
Iesha Meza is one of them.
“It’s really energy-draining,” Iesha said. “Like, you are already dealing with having to keep yourself alive and then you are also trying to figure out how am I going to keep myself alive and how am I going to afford my everyday expenses.”
Besides allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices, the "Build Back Better" plan requires inflation rebates to limit increases in drug prices. It caps out-of-pocket spending for seniors and limits cost-sharing for insulin for Medicare and private insurance users. The Congressional Budget Office reports the drug pricing provisions would reduce the federal deficit by $297 billion over ten years.
There is support in the U.S. Senate for lowering prescription drug prices, but many parts of the "Build Back Better Act" face stiff opposition from Republicans. Congressman Gallego believes the Senate will vote on the plan before Christmas.