SALEM, Ore. — Today, Oregon patient advocates Joanna Olson, Janet Bacon, and Mike Nielsen will testify in front of the Oregon Senate Health Care Committee in support of Senate Bill 844, which would establish a prescription drug affordability board and stakeholder council in an effort to rein in high drug prices for Oregonians.
Joanna Olson of Beaverton, Oregon, suffers from a blood clotting condition and was prescribed Eliquis, which costs her $430 for a month’s supply. “Every time I pick up the prescription, I think about leaving without the drug,” Olson, 86, will explain. “A common medicine needed by millions like Eliquis shouldn’t break the bank for seniors like me, who live on a fixed income.”
In Happy Valley, Oregon, Janet Bacon’s inhaler Spiriva is priced at $478 a month. “If my drug prices continue to go up, I don’t know how I will get by — I worry about needing to sell my home and property to afford the medications I need,” Bacon, a retiree and a Medicare beneficiary, will say. “A prescription drug affordability board would hold Big Pharma accountable for its outrageous pricing practices and bring much needed relief to me and patients across our state. I urge you to vote in support of Senate Bill 844.”
SB 844 would establish a prescription drug affordability board and stakeholder council designed to review prices for prescription drugs that meet specified cost criteria. The board would:
- Be required to establish an upper payment limit for drugs that create or are expected to create affordability challenges for health systems and patients in Oregon, or health inequities for communities of color.
- Identify drugs based on manufacturer reporting, including:
- Increases to the wholesale acquisition cost of any brand drug by $3,000 or more during a 12-month period or drugs coming to market at a wholesale acquisition cost of $30,000 per year or per course of treatment;
- Generic drugs with a wholesale acquisition cost of $100 or more;
- Existing generic medications that increase in price by 200 percent or more per year or per course of treatment.
Mike Nielsen’s wife, Jacki, was diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease hepatitis C. Her doctor prescribed her the curative drug Mavyret, which costs over $13,000 for a 90-day supply — 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,” Mike Nielsen, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran in Bend, Oregon, will tell the committee. “I am asking our legislators to fight for patients like us.”
The hearing and Olson, Bacon, and Nielsen’s testimonies can be watched hereat 1:00 PM PT.
Senate Bill 844 is one of three bills taking on high drug prices. The Senate Health Care Committee also held a hearing on pharmaceutical reform Senate Bills 764 and 763, which are now moving through amendments for a final vote.