Drug pricing was trending in 2021. Here’s a look back at patient advocacy wins and progress toward victories in the year to come.
Welcome to the Year in Review.
1. One-On-Ones With The White House
- As the Biden administration worked with lawmakers to craft the reconciliation package, patients across the country brought their stories to the highest office in the land. They offered the president their support as he pushes to deliver on his commitment to lower drug prices. Patient advocates Gail deVore, Iesha Meza, and Sa’Ra Skipper, who all live with type 1 diabetes, met with President Biden at the White House to share their experiences with high insulin prices and discuss the urgent need to include drug pricing reforms in the legislation. Iesha also introduced the president ahead of his December remarks on how the Build Back Better Act will lower drug prices, and Gail followed up with Vice President Harris to talk about getting the bill across the finish line.
2. Fighting Pharma’s Falsehoods
- The pharmaceutical industry and its front groups worked overtime in 2021 to spread misleading claims that drug pricing reforms will hurt patients, but the facts aren’t on their side. In response, P4AD released an innovation report and a video debunking pharma’s falsehoods that reforms would hinder innovation and explaining how we can have the innovation we need at prices we can afford. To refute unsubstantiated claims that drug price reforms will lead to reduced access to prescription drugs, P4ADNow launched a video and David Mitchell penned an op-ed emphasizing how lower drug prices will increase patient access to medications they need. Price hike reports show that pharma raises prices at will, resulting in outrageous costs for patients, enormous profits for drug companies, and huge paydays for their executives. To highlight Big Pharma’s web of influence, P4AD released a report detailing how the financial and organizational relationships between drug companies and major patient groups constrain these groups from advocating for meaningful legislation to lower drug prices. Over and over again, independent fact checkers rated pharma and its allies’ claims as false. The truth is that patients need Medicare negotiation now for real relief from high prices, and we must not fall for pharma’s fear-mongering.
3. Congressional Priority: Drug Pricing
- This year, Congress is closer than it has been in nearly two decades to addressing high drug prices. Lawmakers wrapped up an investigation into pharmaceutical pricing practices and the House passed the Build Back Better Act including a hardfought compromise on drug pricing reforms. Patients shared their stories at all of the congressional hearings held on drug pricing and utilized an advocacy hub launched by P4ADNow to voice how they have been harmed by high prescription drug prices. P4AD founder David Mitchell spoke at hearings and press conferences about the urgent need for reforms. P4ADNow and influential organizations representing seniors, union workers, and patients ran ad campaigns urging Congress to seize the opportunity to help Americans by lowering drug prices. These groups, along with frontline Democrats, also sent letters to congressional leadership and penned op-eds pushing Congress and the White House to include drug pricing reform in the reconciliation package.
4. Patients Fired Up
- In addition to sharing their stories with the White House and Congress, patients advocated for drug pricing reforms by writing to national and local publications, appearing in ad campaigns urging members of Congress to support Medicare negotiation, signing letters to Capitol Hill, and speaking to news media. Patients in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oregon also delivered testimony and wrote op-eds in support of state legislation, including bills that would ban pay-for-delay deals and create prescription drug affordability boards. We are so thankful to all the patients who have dedicated their time to fighting for legislative reforms. The national conversation on drug pricing would not exist without your voices.
5. Thank You, Taxpayers
- In the second year of the pandemic, drug companies pointed to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines as a reason why prices must be kept high — failing to tell the full story involving billions of dollars in government investment in vaccine research and development. P4AD’s David Mitchell penned a New York Times op-ed, Wall Street Journal letter, and blog post that lays out how the government and taxpayers underwrote the risk while drug companies now stand to shatter sales records and collect billions of dollars from the vaccines. “To all those drug corporations and executives making billions from those of us paying the bills,” Mitchell writes, “You’re welcome.”