SALEM, Ore. — Oregon patient advocate Michael Nielsen will testify in front of the Oregon Senate Committee on Health Care today in support of Senate Bill 764, which cracks down on abusive “pay-for-delay” deals between pharmaceutical manufacturers that delay generic competition and keep prices high.  

Nielsen’s wife, Jacki, was diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease hepatitis C. In 2020, after Jacki’s illness progressed, her doctor prescribed her the curative drug Mavyret. But a 90-day supply of the medication is priced at more than $13,000 — or $433 per pill. That was unaffordable for the couple. 

“It’s wrong what the drug companies are allowed to get away with by playing the system and preventing more affordable generics from coming to market,” Nielsen, 69, will tell the committee. “I am asking our legislators to fight for patients like us.”

The couple has devoted their lives to giving back to their community. Nielsen served two tours in Vietnam, and together, they have raised four children and 22 foster children. 

“It’s sad to know that even though our family has served our community and our country, the system is still letting us down in our time of need. My wife needlessly suffered simply because her drug is too expensive.”

Senate Bill 764 would prohibit an anti-competitive drug industry tactic called “pay-for-delay,” in which a brand-name drug maker cuts a deal with a generic company to delay the introduction of a lower-priced drug to market. The bill would allow the Oregon attorney general to bring civil action against companies involved in such deals with penalties up to three times the value of the drug. California was the first state in the nation to pass pay-for-delay legislation, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has successfully defended the legislation in court.  

Nielsen’s testimony and the hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee can be viewed here at 1 PM PT today.

SB 764 is part of a package of bills moving through the Oregon State Legislature that address high drug prices. The package also includes House Bill 3267, which would establish a prescription drug affordability board. HB 3267 was introduced last week and was referred to the House Committee on Health Care.