WASHINGTON, D.C. — In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today, patient advocate Therese Ball will tell her story and issue an urgent call for passage of H.R. 3 to help her and millions of Americans by lowering drug prices.
Ball, a grandmother, retired nurse, and patient living with multiple sclerosis, will share her experience of being unable to afford the medications she needs to keep her MS under control. The legislative hearing, “Negotiating a Better Deal: Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs,” will review a variety of bills, and Ball will explain why she supports H.R. 3, which would lower drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate on behalf of all Americans.
“I had a front-row seat to the horrifying reality of our drug pricing system: Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them,” Ball of Ogden Dunes, Indiana, will explain to the committee.
Ball was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and was prescribed the medication Copaxone to manage her symptoms. When Copaxone first came to market in 1997, it was priced at $769 a month. Currently, that same monthly supply costs $7,114 — almost 10 times higher.
“I was completely overwhelmed by the price tag, and no matter how many times I crunched the numbers, I couldn’t make it work,” Ball will describe her experience in 2017. “So I made the terrifying decision to go without the drug. The health consequences were immediate and severe. I lost my memory and my quality of life suffered tremendously.”
Ball will explain that H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, would help beneficiaries like her by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices on expensive drugs like Copaxone. MS is a progressive disease, meaning Ball will continue to need new and innovative medications to keep her condition at bay. Ball will say that Big Pharma’s argument that any curbs on its unilateral pricing power will cause important innovation to grind to a halt is simply not true.
“Drug companies have taken this idea of innovation — this hope — and turned it into an ultimatum for patients. They say we must let them charge whatever prices they want, or we can say farewell to future cures. But that’s a false choice,” Ball will say.
“I urge you to vote in support of H.R. 3 — patients have waited long enough,” she will conclude.
H.R. 3., which was recently reintroduced, would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices on behalf of all Americans, prevent price gouging, and direct more money to the National Institutes of Health for critical research to ensure innovation and new drug development. If passed, H.R. 3 would both bring relief to patients and save nearly half a trillion dollars for taxpayers by restoring balance to our drug pricing system and curbing pharma’s unilateral pricing power.