As a pharmacist, I know the best way to keep people healthy is to prevent disease or to identify sickness in the early stages when treatment can be most effective.

I see patients every day who need prescription medicines to preserve health or treat early illness in order to prevent acute problems later on but unfortunately all too many patients can’t afford them.

The skyrocketing price of prescription medicines in the United States makes it harder and harder for me to do my job. While insurance pays for a doctor visit, it doesn’t always pay enough for the prescriptions our patients have to pick up at the pharmacy after the visit, especially since drug corporations keep increasing the prices.

As long as drug manufacturers have monopoly power to set and keep prices high, they will keep raising prices to inflate their profits while patients go without medicine they need, ration their doses or go without other necessities like food and rent to pay for their medicine. None of these things helps patients.

We are lucky in this day and age to have so many new medicines to treat different conditions, but the reality is that wonder drugs and new medicines can’t help people if no one can afford them. As a pharmacist, I know that having a prescription is just the first step.

Congress must step in to make sure these prescriptions are affordable.

Nathan Ramsbacher, Missoula