An event today in Livingston County will focus on the rising cost of prescription drug prices.

Republican State Rep. Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville and AARP of Michigan will host a community conversation on the issue from 12:30 to 2 this afternoon at the Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Genoa Township. Vaupel says that prescription drug prices have “substantially risen in recent years” and that in his role as chairman of the House Committee on Health Policy; he’s made it a priority to “ensure Michiganders have affordable access to necessary medication.”

AARP Michigan Associate State Director for Communications Mark Hornbeck adds that the annual average cost of a brand-name drug has more than tripled over the past decade, outpacing inflation by roughly 400%.

"Drug companies are making billions in profits off seniors and other hard-working Americans,” says Hornbeck. “No one should have to choose between buying groceries and the medicine. It's time to crack down on drug companies for charging Americans the highest prices in the world for the medicines they need."

A similar event is also being sponsored by Democrat Kevin Hertel this evening at Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores. While most efforts are occurring at the federal level, Hornbeck notes Michigan lawmakers also are taking a stand. "We have the Hank Vaupel bill to improve prescription-drug price transparency laws,” says Hornbeck. “There's a bill to allow importation of prescription drugs from Canada, also a bill that would put a cap on insulin co-pays for insured Michiganders."

AARP is advocating for drug-pricing policies that will stop price gouging, increase affordability and support transparency. Hornbeck says specific solutions include allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, getting cheaper generic versions of medications to market faster; and holding drug manufacturers accountable for dramatic cost increases. (JK)

Public News Service contributed to this report.