|Yesterday, we explained why it’s just not true that drug pricing reforms under consideration by the Senate will harm development of innovative new drugs. Our campaign debunking Big Pharma’s lies and setting the record straight on the comprehensive reforms in Congress is updated each day here.
Today, we’ll debunk the pharmaceutical industry’s lie that reforms will harm patient access to medications.
? Big Pharma’s Lie: Drug pricing reforms will make it harder for patients to get their medications.
✅ The Truth: The biggest barrier to patient access right now is the high prices of drugs. The reforms will increase patient access by lowering prices.
The biggest barrier to patient access is high prices – far too many patients across the country struggle to afford their medications. A 2021 survey found that nearly 40 percent of patients did not take their drugs as prescribed due to high costs, and 20 percent of patients took on debt to pay for their medications. It’s estimated that more than 5 million Medicare beneficiaries had trouble affording their medications in 2019, with rates highest among Black and Latino seniors. If current trends continue, 1.1 million beneficiaries could die this decade because they can’t afford the drugs they need. Lower drug prices from Medicare negotiation and limits on price increases would improve medication adherence and people’s health, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The reforms being considered by the Senate would address the high prices driving patients to go without their needed medications and preserve long-standing government policies on drug coverage that protect access. Medicare will continue to be required to cover all drugs in six protected classes and at least two medications in each class of drugs. Medicaid must still cover every drug offered by a manufacturer in the United States if the manufacturer agrees to give Medicaid a best price guarantee. Additionally, even with lower prices, drug companies will continue to file for drug approval first in the United States, given that we are by far the largest market in the world with the highest prices in the world.
Katherine Pepper, a Washington patient who lives with an autoimmune disease, takes Humira, a medication that has a monthly price of $6,409. Katherine writes, “As a senior living on a fixed income, I’ve had to choose between filling my Humira prescription or buying groceries. That’s a decision no one should have to make.”
Therese Humphrey Ball, an Indiana patient living with multiple sclerosis, shares about a time when she couldn’t access her medication at all because of its price. “In 2017, I was forced to go off of Copaxone entirely because I simply could not pay its $6,000 monthly cost,” she writes. “Without the medication I needed, I began having difficulty with my cognitive function. I work really hard to keep my life in order and my memory intact even with MS, so this was devastating. I lost something that is so valuable to me.”
Vanessa Ladson, a Delaware patient living with lupus and fibromyalgia, writes, “I am on a fixed income, and I have to scrimp and save just to be able to eat. I can’t afford all of my prescriptions, including the blood thinner Eliquis, which is priced at $500 per month. Instead, I take a cheaper drug that gives me a higher risk of bleeding.”