BOSTON — After drug prices for MassHealth doubled in five years, Governor Charlie Baker and the state legislature are advancing budget proposals that would require drug companies to justify exorbitant prices and allow the state to negotiate drug costs on behalf of patients and taxpayers. In support of this effort, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a bipartisan national patient organization, is launching a 6-figure ad campaign to support the budget proposal and give residents tools to contact their legislators in support of these reforms.
“The status quo gives drug companies carte blanche to dip into Massachusetts’ state coffers and patients’ pockets, and it’s time for change,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Massachusetts residents are suffering under relentless prescription drug price hikes. We support Governor Baker, consumer groups, and the state legislature’s efforts to curtail rising drug prices, and we are excited to give residents the tools they need to take a stand.”
ABOUT THE AD CAMPAIGN
As part of the campaign Patients For Affordable Drugs Now will:
- Launch video ads on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and across local digital platforms that tell the story of a Massachusetts resident who couldn’t afford the price of her life-saving drugs.
- Give Commonwealth residents digital tools to contact legislators via letters, Facebook, and Twitter in support of the measures.
- Elevate thevoices of local patients to demonstrate the human toll of high-priced drugs on Commonwealth residents.
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now has shared drug pricing stories in Massachusetts, sending two patients to testify before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and publishing a raft of patient stories on its website to underscore the urgency of the drug pricing crisis in Massachusetts.
- Kathleen Rider, Otis, MA: “I am on a fixed income and am forced to shell out $145 for the medication every three months. It adds up. The stress of having such a costly medicine does affect my mental health. This is a necessary medication for me.”
- Diane Sarmento, Lowell, MA: “I am a Medicare patient who was prescribed Ampyra, which is meant to strengthen my muscles and improve my overall quality of life. But the price of this drug is prohibitive: when I can’t get assistance, I can’t afford it.”
- John Wood, West Springfield, MA: “I have type 2 diabetes that I work to keep at bay by living a healthy lifestyle. However, I also take Onglyza to help maintain my A1C levels. I usually fall into the Medicare donut hole within 6 months, causing a coverage gap. That’s when the price skyrockets to upwards of $450.”
HOW THE BUDGET PROPOSAL WOULD WORK
Governor Baker and the Massachusetts State Senate agree on key provisions to lower drug prices. Their plan would allow MassHealth to negotiate lower drug prices and:
- Establish and publicly post a target value for the drug;
- Guarantee a public hearing where drug manufacturers discuss and justify their prices;
- Require oversight, reporting, or an accountability process for the drug manufacturer if negotiations fail.
MassBio has tried to water down the budget plan by lobbying to remove any public posting of drug value and weaken enforcement mechanisms. Today’s campaign will push back against the effort by drug corporations to keep prices high.
According to recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 25 percent of Americans say they trust drug corporations to price their products fairly. Nearly one in fourAmericans report difficulty affording their prescription medications.
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now is a bipartisan 501(c)(4) 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.