This No-vember we’re saying no to high drug prices.
Welcome To The Week In Review.
- Sheldon and President Biden
- On Tuesday, patient advocate Sheldon Armus, a Medicare beneficiary from Boynton Beach, FL, shared his story about the high price of his heart medications and introduced President Biden, thanking him for passing the Inflation Reduction Act which will lower drug prices and improve the health of millions of patients. “Knowing that we have leaders like President Biden fighting to bring down our drug prices — not keep money in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies — means the world to seniors like my wife and myself, who have been waiting on this relief for years,” Sheldon shared before introducing the president. President Biden delivered remarks about lowering prescription drug costs through the Inflation Reduction Act, and called out Florida Senator Rick Scott, who has been pandering Big Pharma lies about the drug price reforms in the new law. In addition to introducing the president, Sheldon also penned a letter-to-the-editor expressing his frustration that his senator Marco Rubio cosponsored a bill that aims to reverse the drug price reforms passed in the Inflation Reduction Act. “Finally, Congress passed a law to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and Senator Rubio wants to reverse it?! Makes no sense.” We are grateful to Sheldon for sharing his story with President Biden and for telling his Florida senators that patients like him are counting on the new drug price law to deliver relief. — (P4ADNow, Politifact, Sun Sentinel)
2. Patients Say No To GOP Bill
- There was significant pushback this week to four Republican senators’ so-called Protect Drug Innovation Act, which aims to reverse the life-changing drug price reforms recently passed into law in the Inflation Reduction Act. A flurry of letters and op-eds from around the countrycalled out Senators Lankford (OK), Lee (UT), Lummis (WY), and Rubio (FL)’s recent effort to force Americans to pay more for their prescriptions. “It’s so disappointing to see Lee lead the effort to repeal these reforms before they are even fully implemented,” Marion Lennberg, a retiree in Salt Lake City, penned in an op-ed. “Utah seniors and their families are depending on all our elected leaders to put our needs ahead of political partisanship and corporate greed.” Meg Jackson-Drage, from Magna, UT who lives with fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, both of which require costly medication, wrote, “Sen. Lee spews Big Pharma lies while he tries to make sure drug companies can continue to price gouge me for my prescriptions. I don’t understand how he can put drug company profits ahead of the needs of his constituents by pushing for the repeal of reforms that lower drug prices.” — (Door County Pulse, Altoona Mirror, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Montana Standard, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake Tribune)
3. No Good Reason For High Rx Prices
- A new study this week from JAMA found that cancer drugs aren’t priced based on effectiveness for patients. The study indicates “this suggests that cancer drugs are priced based predominantly on what the market will bear,” and thus what will bring in the most cash for Big Pharma. And the industry seems to have quite a large spending budget lately. Another new study from JAMA found a 70 percent increase in health industries’ spending on federal lobbying from 2000 to 2020. “PhRMA, the big drug industry lobby, has wielded the most power within the health care sector since 2017,” Axios reported. “It broke records on spending during the political battle over drug prices.” Clearly Big Pharma has plenty of money to spend. Then why do they make patients pay so much for drugs? Because all they care about is their bottom line. — (Medscape, Axios)
4. Patients Are Suffering From High Drug Prices
- Americans across the country are unjustly affected by outrageously high drug prices. “Since COVID, we’ve seen the price of medicine skyrocket to pad the pocketbooks of CEOs as my constituents have taken food out of their shopping carts,” Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández said in an op-ed this week. Patients are rationing or forgoing their medication because they can’t afford it. For Antavia Worsham, the outcome was deadly — she tragically died at age 22 because she couldn’t afford the high price of her insulin. Insulin pricing disproportionately affects our minority communities. Latinos make up under 20 percent of the U.S. population, but the community is 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults, making them more likely to need insulin to live. It’s no wonder Hispanic voters have health care on their minds as they head to the polls. It is imperative that we continue to rein in Big Pharma’s greed and put human lives before corporate profits. — (Albuquerque Journal, 11 Alive, Tampa Bay Times, The Hill)
5. Big Pharma’s Latest Scapegoat, Same BS
- Big Pharma is using the Inflation Reduction Act as its latest scapegoat to justify maximizing profits. This week, drug companies Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly are using the new drug price law as their latest reason to stop investing in new drugs that won’t reap companies maximum profits. Drug company Alnylam claimed it wouldn’t further explore expanding the number of diseases its drug vutrisiran treats because it would make the drug eligible for Medicare negotiation. But vultrisiran and drugs that very treat rare diseases are unlikely to ever be eligible for negotiation, as they are unlikely to become one of the costliest drugs for Medicare. Arguments from pharma companies like Eli Lilly that the Inflation Reduction Act makes investment in small molecule drugs less profitable are simply a case of Big Pharma fear-mongering yet again. The Inflation Reduction Act actually improves the environment for small molecule drugs compared to biologics. The truth is, Big Pharma has been deciding which drugs to produce and which ones not to produce based on the industry’s profits for years – its latest ploy to throw the Inflation Reduction Act under the bus has nothing to do with saving patients’ lives and everything to do with maximizing profits. Same old pharma. — (Endpoints, Endpoints, STAT)
🗳️BONUS: It’s nearly election day! And drug prices are still top of mind as Americans cast their ballots. Patient advocate Jackie Trapp, who lives with a rare blood cancer, told CBS this week that she’s planning on voting for Democrats, and that “she’s looking forward to seeing those [drug] costs drop in coming years as drug-pricing provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act kick in.”
Have a great weekend, everyone!