Most adults in New Jersey are concerned about being able to afford prescription medications, and an even greater amount believe elected officials aren't doing enough to allay those concerns, according to data released Wednesday by AARP.

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In the nonprofit's survey of 1,200 registered voters aged 18 and older in the Garden State, 74% said they believe drug companies are too concerned about making a profit and not concerned enough about helping people.

"Too many Garden State residents are choosing between filling life-saving prescriptions and paying rent, buying food and meeting other critical needs," Crystal McDonald, AARP New Jersey associate state director of advocacy, said during a news conference on Zoom.

McDonald said taking action regarding prescription drug prices is especially important today given the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thirty-four percent of survey respondents indicated they are "very concerned" about being able to afford the price of prescription medications in the future. Another 25% said they're "somewhat concerned." Heavy majorities threw support behind specific proposals aimed at lowering prescription drug prices.

"Just the medication itself is such a substantial hit to me and my family currently," said Jared Schechtel, of Neptune, who was diagnosed in 2013 with Crohn's disease and more recently with a neurological autoimmune disease.

The 22-year-old has been in and out of the hospital for most of his life, and is currently receiving infusions every eight months that cost about $34,000 each.

"When I compare the prices to the rest of the world, it's insane that we're about three times more expensive than the rest."

More than 80% of voters said they support the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, an independent body that evaluates drug prices and sets limits on how much people will pay for high-cost prescription medications.

A measure in the state Senate and Assembly would establish such a board here. The board would be comprised of five public members who have expertise in health care economics or clinical medicine.

Nearly 80% of survey respondents also support the idea of allowing New Jersey to create a way to import prescription drugs from Canada in order to help people save money on their medications.

About the same percentage said elected officials are doing too little to address high prices.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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