Social media wasn’t working for six hours this week, much like our drug pricing system all the damn time.
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Congress, Arizona Patients Need Your Help
- On Monday, P4ADNow launched a six-figure Arizona ad campaign featuring Phoenix patient Iesha Meza, who lives with type 1 diabetes, and calling on Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. “When you have diabetes, insulin is like water — without it, you’ll die. Now imagine if water cost $300 a vial,” Iesha says in the ad. “I had to ration my insulin, and it almost killed me.” Arizona patients need Senators Sinemaand Kelly, who both made pledges on the campaign trail to lower drug prices, to vote for passage of Medicare negotiation legislation in the reconciliation package. — (P4ADNow)
2. “This Isn’t About Politics”
- On Wednesday, P4ADNow followed up with another ad campaign urging five key House members — Reps. Correa (CA-46), Peters (CA-52), Gottheimer (NJ-05), Murphy (FL-07), and Rice (NY-04) — to support strong Medicare negotiation legislation. All five members voted for H.R. 3 in 2019, then flip-flopped and introduced an ineffective rival bill this year. P4ADNow’s David Mitchell explains that these members of Congress must “deliver on promises to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for Americans — instead of supporting a weak and ineffective substitute masquerading as negotiation and designed to protect Big Pharma.” The campaign’s TV ads feature Kris Garcia, who lives with multiple bleeding disorders and depends on infusions that cost nearly $40,000. P4ADNow also launched an ad thanking Rep. Golden (ME-02)for fighting to let Medicare negotiate lower prices and asking him to get the job done by voting for the Build Back Better Act. “For millions of Americans like me, this isn’t about politics,” Kris says. “This is about life and death.” — (P4ADNow)
3. Seniors See Through “Mediscare” Ads
- PhRMA and its front groups are spending heavily on deceptive ads and mailers framing Medicare negotiation as Democratic plans to cut Medicare — but patients aren’t fooled. “Millions of dollars are being spent to deceive seniors into opposing these cost savings, by shadow groups with dirty tactics that don’t have to disclose their donors,” writes the editorial board of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger. “It’s a vivid, grotesque example of the distortions of our political system by big money.” The reality is that the vast majority of New Jersey seniors and Americans, regardless of political affiliation, support Medicare negotiation and believe lawmakers must act to address high drug prices this year. Americans aren’t buying Big Pharma’s lies anymore. — (Axios)
4. Debunking Pharma’s Patient Access Lie
- The Kaiser Family Foundation published a fact check this week in response to the drug industry’s persistent lies that Medicare negotiation will “restrict access to medicines.” The truth: Proposed Medicare negotiation legislation would not allow the government to dictate access to drugs, and lower drug prices will actually improve patient access to medications. Don’t let drug industry propaganda get in the way of lowering drug prices for patients. — (Kaiser Family Foundation)
5. Taxpayers Fund Innovation
- Merck’s antiviral drug, which may be effective in reducing risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, was developed with $35 million in taxpayer funds. But while the government has already agreed to pay Merck $17.80 per pill once the drug gains emergency use authorization, researchers estimate that it only costs about $0.50 to manufacture each pill, even with a 10 percent profit margin. Like Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was 100 percent funded by taxpayers and has boosted three executives and investors into Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in the United States, Merck’s antiviral drug is yet another example of pharma cashing out on government-funded innovation. — (Axios)
One more thing: This week, health policy experts and constituents wrote op-eds and letters urging Rep. Murphy, Rep. Schrader, and members of Congress to enact legislation to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of Americans.