MASSACHUSETTS — Patient advocate Karolina Chorvath, who lives with Crohn’s disease, shared her story about living with high drug prices today during a Joint Committee on Health Care Financing hearing, testifying in support of House Bill 729 and Senate Bill 771. This legislation expands the authority of the Health Policy Commission to allow it to review the prices of expensive drugs and engage with drug corporations to lower the costs of medications that are deemed unreasonable or excessive.
To manage her Crohn’s disease and arthritis, Chorvath takes Stelara, which costs between $30,000 and $70,000 a year. She also takes an injectable for severe chronic migraines that costs $300 to $600 per treatment.
“Like so many others, I live at the mercy of drug corporations,” Chorvath, a Boston-based journalist, told the committee. “I already have to deal with the excruciating pain and uncertainty of living with multiple chronic conditions … It is unacceptable to leave any patient wondering if they can afford to live.”
H.729, An Act to ensure prescription drug cost transparency and affordability, and S.771, An Act relative to pharmaceutical access, costs, and transparency, would:
- Authorize the Health Policy Commission to review the costs for the most expensive drugs and drugs that have had rapid price increases;
- Engage drug manufacturers in lowering costs if their prices are deemed unreasonable or excessive;
- Implement cost assistance programs to lower the costs of several medications, including inhalers and insulin;
- Improve price transparency to better understand what is driving high prices;
- Increase oversight of pharmacy benefit managers through state licensure.
“That is why reforms like those proposed are so important,” Chorvath said. “They take on the high cost of prescription drugs and would bring some relief to patients like me.”
After today’s hearing, the committee will consider whether to report out the bills favorably.
You can watch the recording of the hearing here.