SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers can take a stand today on one of the most important issues facing residents — rising prescription drug prices. A Utah House committee will hold a hearing on legislation that would allow importation of wholesale prescription drugs from Canada, introducing lower drug prices at Utah pharmacies. The bill would help Utah patients avoid making the difficult decision to afford their life-saving drugs or skip doses. On behalf of more than 1,000 patients in Utah engaged in efforts to lower prescription drug prices, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a bipartisan national patient organization, strongly endorsed HB 267.
“We applaud the state of Utah for HB 267 — a pioneering approach to reducing the cost of prescription drugs,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Canadians pay on average 30 percent less than Americans for the same prescription drugs. Since Big Pharma insists on gouging Americans, we should all be able to import safe bargains from abroad.”
Testifying at the Utah House hearing today in favor of HB 267 is Meg Jackson-Drage, 50, of Magna, Utah. Jackson-Drage relies on the Pfizer medication Lyrica to alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. She is forced to pay $550 a month — even for a lower dose of the medication than what she needs — due to do the drug’s skyrocketing cost. According to Senate documents Pfizer increased the price of Lyrica by 145 percent from 2009 to 2015, with an increase of 19.3 percent in 2017 alone.
“This bill will not only bring relief to thousands of Utahns like me who have struggled to afford their drugs, but it will also reduce a massive financial expense on Utah taxpayers and patients,” Jackson-Drage said.
The Utah bill would:
- Instruct the state Department of Health to apply for a waiver that would allow for the importation of wholesale prescription drugs from Canada to be sold at local pharmacies at a lower costs than prescriptions produced in the U.S.
- Ensure a pipeline of regulated, safe, and effective drugs from Canada reach U.S. patients.
- Save Utah an estimated $70 million a year.
- Pressure US drug manufacturers to lower prices by increasing competition.
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now is a bipartisan national patient organization focused exclusively on policies to lower drug prices. To maintain its independence, the group does not accept donations from organizations that profit from the development and distribution of prescription drugs.