|Earlier this week, we debunked pharma’s lies about how drug pricing reforms will hinder innovation and patient access to medications. 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 explain how taxpayers played a critical role in funding the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines.
🚫 Big Pharma’s Lie: Drug companies saved us with their COVID-19 vaccines. Cracking down on their prices now could hinder future vaccine and drug development.
✅ The Truth: Taxpayers saved ourselves. The reforms will ensure this can continue.
Taxpayer funding was the engine behind the COVID-19 vaccines, and the package of drug pricing reforms passed by the House will allow the United States to continue leading in drug development while allowing patients to access the medications and vaccines we need at prices we can afford. Taxpayers paved the way for the successful COVID-19 vaccines by investing billions of dollars in research prior to the pandemic and assuming the financial risk after the pandemic began by funding clinical trials, boosting manufacturing capacity, and making advance purchase agreements. Research into the mRNA technology behind the vaccines began decades ago in federally funded labs, and analysts estimate that the U.S. government spent between $18 billion and $23 billion on developing and manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine candidates after the virus emerged. Moderna even admitted that its vaccine was 100 percent funded using federal dollars — in fact, NIH scientists have filed applications for several patents related to the vaccine.
While drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna try to scare patients by threatening the future of vaccines under the drug pricing reforms, theirexecutives have reaped enormous profits on the COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer is expected to shatter records with $32 billion in sales this year while Moderna projects $19 billion in sales this year. As COVID-19 is expected to be endemic, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel says the company is preparing to raise prices. To ensure Americans are protected from price gouging on life-saving vaccines, we must pass reforms to limit price hikes to the rate of inflation.
In this New York Times op-ed on the role taxpayers played in developing the COVID-19 vaccines, P4AD founder David Mitchell writes, “Americans should stop buying the pharmaceutical industry’s argument that innovation and new drug development will dry up if the government uses its purchasing power and bargains to get a better deal. The United States spends more per capita than any other wealthy nation for prescription drugs — often the same drugs available for far less overseas. … This year, we can achieve reforms that both advance innovation and ensure Americans can afford the medicines — and vaccines — we need.”
|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.”
|P4ADNow Launches “Debunking Big Pharma Week” To Set The Record Straight On Comprehensive Drug Pricing Reforms Now Before The Senate|
|WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Congress is on the brink of passing comprehensive drug pricing reform for the first time in two decades, Big Pharma continues to spread lies to scare patients and lawmakers in an attempt to maintain its unilateral power to dictate prices of brand-name drugs. This week, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now will debunk five of the industry’s lies about innovation, access, COVID-19 vaccines, out-of-pocket costs, and partisan priorities, and set the record straight with the truth about what the drug pricing reforms would mean for patients. As the Senate returns from recess next week, this campaign aims to arm members of Congress, press, and the public with the tools to counter Big Pharma’s lies so we can get on with the business of passing these historic provisions that will help millions of patients. |
We’ll be updating each day of the campaign here. Here’s day one:
BIG PHARMA DEBUNK DAY ONE: INNOVATION
🚫 Big Pharma’s Lie: Drug pricing reforms will stifle innovation.
✅ The Truth: We can maintain the innovation we need at prices we can afford.
The comprehensive drug pricing reforms before the Senate will bring an end to the pharmaceutical industry’s unilateral power to set and raise prices at will, while maintaining the valuable drug innovation we need. As Big Pharma’s profits have continued to soar, the industry is falsely claiming that these reforms would grind research and development of new drugs to a halt. In reality, the legislative package passed by the House of Representatives would only decrease the number of new drugs over the next 30 years by 10 out of 1,300 expected new drugs – that’s less than 1 percent. Further, only 10 to 15 percent of new drugs are truly innovative in the first place. Any biopharmaceutical industry revenue lost from the proposed drug price reforms would only be a drop in the bucket for an industry with profits that are almost three times the average of the S&P 500.
The truth is, the drug pricing package continues to incentivize the industry to find new, innovative drugs in the same way we do now by allowing drug companies to set launch prices and giving new drugs nine to 13 years before becoming eligible for Medicare negotiation. The provisions protect special incentives to develop rare disease treatments and continue to reward pharmaceutical innovation.
Don Kreis’ daughter, Rose, lives with a type of cystic fibrosis for which the current breakthrough medications don’t work. Rose is still waiting for her miracle drug, but Don fears when it comes to market, Big Pharma will price it out of reach. “When a new drug comes to market, will she be able to even consider taking it? No one cares more about innovation than us — but these drugs are worthless if Rose can’t afford them,” he writes.
Kris Garcia, who lives with four bleeding disorders, asthma, and several allergies, explained in a recent op-ed in The Colorado Sun that, “We do not have to choose between innovation and lower drug prices. We can and will have both once the Senate passes these reforms through reconciliation.” Each vial of his medication, Humate-P, is priced at $10,000, and for each infusion, he needs four vials. “For me, these reforms would help bring predictability and consistency to my drug prices.”
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. “We Have The Votes”
2. A Human Rights Issue
3. The Cost Of MS
|WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, penned an op-ed in The Hill that calls on Congress to pass the comprehensive drug pricing reforms now before the Senate that include Medicare negotiation. The piece is in response to the House of Representatives passing a bill to cap monthly insulin copays for the second time — once in the comprehensive package last fall and again as standalone legislation. The piece explains that there is a clear path forward to enact historic and comprehensive reforms that bring relief to all patients — including those dependent on insulin — and save money for consumers and taxpayers, and calls on the Senate to get it done. Read the full piece here and below.|
|By Rep. Susan Wild and David Mitchell|
April 8, 2022
We are facing an historic opportunity in Congress to finally reform our rigged prescription drug pricing system that has forced Americans to pay almost four times what other nations pay for the same drugs and has left one out of four patients unable to afford the medications they need.
Last fall, one of us, Rep. Susan Wild, voted to pass comprehensive drug pricing reforms that would help millions of Americans afford expensive medications. The other one of us, David Mitchell, is a patient who would benefit directly from the legislation.
Right now, the Senate could follow the House of Representatives’ lead and pass the comprehensive reforms to deliver relief to all Americans with high drug prices. These historic reforms already have the necessary support to pass in the Senate – a clear path through reconciliation.
But the Senate is dragging its feet on reconciliation, instead focusing on passing just one component of the broad package: capping monthly insulin copays. Meanwhile, Rep. Wild and her colleagues in the House have now passed the insulin provision twice — once in the comprehensive package last Fall and again last week as standalone legislation.
To be very clear, it is beyond question that we need to provide relief to people who rely on insulin — the price of which skyrocketed 300 percent over a recent ten year period. But addressing high insulin prices is already included in the broader drug pricing package passed by the House of Representatives and now before the Senate. And there are millions of patients who rely on other expensive drugs who would benefit from the reforms in the whole package.
David, for example, lives with the incurable cancer, multiple myeloma. The list prices of the four cancer drugs keeping him alive total $935,000 annually. Just one of those drugs will cost more than $16,000 out-of-pocket this year. And he is far from alone.
The scope of the problem is enormous: More than 131 million people — 66 percent of all adults in the United States — use prescription drugs. More than 25 percent of American voters said they or a family member had financial difficulty affording a prescribed medication in the last 12 months. More than half of cancer patients report going into debt because of the price of their care, with chemotherapy and pharmacy drugs cited among the top reasons for that debt. One out of four people with diabetes reports rationing insulin due to cost. For patients with multiple sclerosis, the annual median price for brand name MS medications has increased almost 300 percent from $34,000 to $94,000 in less than 10 years.
The comprehensive drug pricing reforms would deliver relief to all Americans who are struggling by – for the first time – authorizing Medicare to negotiate prices directly for some of the most expensive prescription medicines; instituting a hard cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for millions of Medicare beneficiaries and people who are insulin dependent; and limiting annual price increases for prescription drugs to no more than the rate of inflation.
To put this into perspective, if Congress succeeds in passing the drug pricing reforms, David would save more than $14,000 per year beginning in 2024, plus savings on premiums. It would restrain prices and save money for hundreds of millions of Americans.
We have the votes in the Senate to pass comprehensive legislation to help all of these people. In fact, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is a key player in fashioning a reconciliation package and supports one that will reform taxes, fight climate change and lower prices of prescription drugs, including allowing Medicare to negotiate.
And voters, who are feeling the impact of inflation, are united in supporting these reforms. More than 4 out of 5 Americans agree that Medicare should have the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices. And 9 out of 10 voters agree that allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices is a top reason to pass the reconciliation bill.
There is a clear path forward to pass historic and comprehensive reforms that bring relief to all patients – including those dependent on insulin – and save
Susan Wild represents Pennsylvania’s 7th District and David Mitchell is founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs Now (P4ADNow).
Apropos of nothing, the price of a full course of rabies immunization can be $10,000.
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. The Ploy To Keep Prices High
2. “We Have To Do This”
3. The Case For Medicare Negotiation
This April, we won’t let Big Pharma fool us: We can have the drug innovation we need at prices we can afford.
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Priority #1: Full Drug Pricing Package
2. Saving Money, Improving Access
3. Time For A Course-Correct
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, following the House of Representatives’ passage of H.R. 6833, the Affordable Insulin Now Act:
“The House of Representatives today voted to once again pass legislation to cap copays for insulin. Last fall, Democrats in the House passed a historic drug pricing reform package that included copay caps for millions of people who take insulin, Medicare negotiations to lower the price of insulin and other expensive drugs, and limits on annual drug price increases to the rate of inflation. That package of reforms would deliver relief to all Americans.
“Now it is up to Democrats in the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass comprehensive reforms through reconciliation. There are millions of patients who rely on expensive drugs who urgently need the reforms in the drug pricing package, including, most importantly, Medicare negotiation. There is a path forward in the Senate to pass the legislation through reconciliation. In order to deliver on their promises to all patients — including those who depend on insulin — the Senate must act urgently to approve the broad provisions already passed by the House. Americans overwhelmingly support these reforms — they must be the Senate’s number one priority on drug pricing policy upon returning from the upcoming recess.”