WASHINGTON, D.C. — Big Pharma is lobbying Congress to repeal a rule that requires drug corporations to pay a higher share of prescription costs for people on Medicare. At the same time, patient advocates descended on Washington, D.C., to tell lawmakers not cave to pharma lobbying without supporting the CREATES Act, a bill to lower drug prices.
“If Congress caves to pharma and repeals drug cost protections for Medicare beneficiaries in the donut hole, the least they can do is stop stalling and pass the bipartisan CREATES Act,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now.
According to news reports, lobbyists and lawmakers “are working to relax a law that would force drug makers to pay a higher percentage of costs for Medicare beneficiaries.”
The CREATES Act (S. 974 and H.R. 2212) would stop big drug companies from blocking competition by refusing to allow their brand name drugs to be used in testing needed to get approval for generic competitors. If passed, patients would get access to lower-priced generic drugs faster.
Among the patients visiting lawmakers are:
- Lisa Driggers, of South Carolina, who said: “Just one of my husband’s chemo drugs is over $22,639.00 for a 21-day supply. Ungodly!”
- Bob Parker, of Colorado, who wrote: “For most of the past 8 years, I have cost the government about $15,000 a month. I have prostate cancer.”
- Pam Holt, of Indiana, who has taken on $10,000 in debt to stay alive and afford her prescriptions since her 2012 cancer diagnosis.
The pharmaceutical lobby spent $25 million last year and continues to oppose the CREATES Act despite calls from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, FreedomWorks, and the Heritage Foundation to pass the bill.
A new national poll shows that Americans across the political spectrum want Congress to make lower drug prices a top priority, and voters support passage of the CREATES Act by an 83 to 9 margin. According to a survey from the Republican-led research firm GS Strategies, 85 percent of voters nationwide say lowering the cost of prescription drugs should be a leading priority for Congress compared to just 12 percent who consider it a low priority.
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now aims to act as a counterbalance to drug corporation influence and conducts on-the-ground advocacy in support of candidates and policies to curb drug prices. It does not accept funding from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.