Roundtable Takes Place As Senate Considers Drug Pricing Reforms In A New Reconciliation Package
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Colorado patient advocates Gail deVore and Kris Garcia will speak at Senator Michael Bennet’s virtual roundtable today at 3:00 PM MT/5:00 PM ET on the urgent need to lower the price of prescription drugs. This event takes place as the Senate considers the drug pricing reforms already passed by the House of Representatives.
“Colorado patients are fortunate that Senator Bennet is a champion in the fight to deliver relief to Coloradans and Americans who are struggling to afford their prescription drugs,” said David Mitchell, a patient with incurable blood cancer whose drugs carry a list price of more than $900,000 per year and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, ahead of the roundtable. “The drug pricing reforms under consideration by the Senate will help millions of patients by authorizing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, limiting year-to-year price increases, and capping out-of-pocket costs for millions who are on Medicare or are insulin-dependent.”
Kris, a father of three from Denver, lives with bleeding disorders, asthma, and severe allergies and is prescribed many expensive drugs, including EpiPens and Humate-P, which costs $10,000 per vial. “The toll of having a medical condition like this is taxing enough; the financial burden only makes such a situation more stressful,” Kris will say at the roundtable. “The price of these prescriptions has affected many decisions in my life. I had to give up my dream of being a business owner because of how expensive my medications were. … My family and I will keep having to make daily sacrifices in order to make sure I have what I need to survive. … The Senate must pass these measures now to help the millions of patients in the U.S. who struggle to afford their drugs.”
“As someone who has been facing the outrageous price of insulin for decades, I can’t begin to tell you how much real, comprehensive drug pricing reform would mean to me,” Gail, a Denver patient who lives with type 1 diabetes and depends on insulin to survive, will share today. “That’s why I am so grateful that Senator Bennet is fighting to lower drug prices for all patients so we have access to the medications we need at prices we can afford.”
In his State of the Union address last week, President Biden called on Congress to lower the prices of prescription drugs by passing reforms, including allowing Medicare to negotiate. The drug pricing reforms in the House-passed Build Back Better Act are the most popular element of the package, will deliver relief to patients, and have been endorsed by all 50 Democratic senators.
Senator Bennet, Gail, and Kris will be joined by other Colorado patients and spokespeople from AARP Colorado and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative at today’s event. Reporters who are interested in attending today’s 3:00 PM MT/5:00 PM ET virtual roundtable should RSVP to [email protected]. Gail, Kris, and P4ADNow staff members are available to speak with press upon request.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, in response to President Biden’s July 9 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy:
“We applaud President Biden for promoting competition to drive true innovation and lower prescription drug prices for Americans. This executive order is another demonstration of the administration’s commitment to providing relief to patients struggling to afford their prescription medications. We look forward to working with HHS and the FTC as they craft their plans to fulfill the requests in the order.
“The president’s executive order included a restatement of his call for comprehensive legislation, including allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. Both avenues — executive action and legislative solutions — can contribute to the reforms we need to ensure we get the innovation we need at prices patients can afford.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a new report today demonstrating that Big Pharma’s argument that the industry requires high drug prices to develop meaningful innovation is simply untrue. The report finds that 14 pharmaceutical corporations spent $56 billion more on stock buybacks and dividends than on research and development from 2016 to 2020.
Today’s press call, hosted by Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Peter Welch, highlighted patient advocate Lynn Scarfuto, a retired nurse and cancer patient who faces a $14,000 price tag for her cancer medication, Imbruvica. The report finds that even if the pharmaceutical industry were to see a decrease in revenue due to drug pricing reforms like H.R. 3, which would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for Americans, drug corporations could maintain or exceed current research and development levels by spending less on buybacks and dividends.
“Patients don’t buy Big Pharma’s lie that drug corporations must be allowed to dictate sky-high prices in order to drive research and development — we can have the innovation we need at prices we can afford,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Americans should not be paying almost four times what other wealthy nations pay for the same brand-name drugs. Congress must put patients first and allow Medicare to have the power to negotiate lower prices by passing H.R. 3.”
Lynn Scarfuto told the press that she is worried that she will soon lose the ability to afford her prescription.
“I don’t have the financial resources to pay for my medication — and not many people do,” said Scarfuto, from Herkimer, New York. “My inability to afford Imbruvica’s astronomical price once my assistance runs out would certainly expedite my death.”
AbbVie, the company that makes Imbruvica, made more than $4.3 billion in net revenue from Imbruvica in 2020 alone. AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez admitted that price increases that led to increased revenue had nothing to do with innovation or improvement to that drug. The new report shows AbbVie, along with other drug companies, spent more on stock buybacks and dividends than research and development every year for the past five years.
Key takeaways from the report include the following:
“Big Pharma companies, like AbbVie, want patients and Congress alike to believe that we must face high prices to fund important innovation. But that’s just not the case,” Scarfuto continued. “Congress has the power to change our broken system by passing H.R. 3 and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices so we can have the innovative medications we need at prices we all can afford. For patients like me, it is a matter of life and death.”
H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, was reintroduced in the House of Representatives in April. The chamber passed the bill in the 116th Congress. It will lower prices, rein in price gouging, and reduce out-of-pocket costs by restoring balance to the U.S. drug pricing system to ensure both innovation and affordability.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued today by Patients For Affordable Drugs Now:
“We want to thank Senator Casey’s office for engaging in conversations with us and reiterating his long-standing support for Medicare negotiation. We appreciate his continuing commitment to a strong Senate Finance Committee drug pricing bill, including an effective approach to Medicare negotiation that will lower prices for Americans. As a result, we are suspending advertising and other activities in Pennsylvania that were announced yesterday. We regret any misunderstandings on our part and look forward to working with Senator Casey and his office to achieve our mutual goals in the weeks and months ahead.”
COLORADO — The following statement was issued today by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now:
“We want to thank Senator Bennet’s office for the opportunity to have a conversation today, during which we clarified his position on drug price legislation. We received strong assurances of Senator Bennet’s continued commitment to fighting for a strong Senate Finance Committee drug pricing bill that will include an effective approach to Medicare negotiation that will lower prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients and all Americans. As a result, we are suspending advertising and other activities in Colorado that were announced today. We regret any misunderstandings on our part, and we look forward to working with Senator Bennet and his office to achieve our mutual goals in the weeks and months ahead.”
DENVER — The following statement was issued by Lucy Westerfield, deputy executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, following Governor Jared Polis’ signing of SB 21-175, a bill that establishes a prescription drug affordability board designed to deliver relief to Coloradans suffering from high drug prices:
“On behalf of Colorado patients, we thank Governor Polis for signing into law SB 21-175, a groundbreaking bill that will establish the country’s third prescription drug affordability board. The new prescription drug affordability board, which has overwhelming support from Coloradans, will be the first board of its kind to have the power to set upper payment limits for all insurers, providing meaningful relief to patients who struggle to afford their medications due to high prices. This is an important step for Colorado and one we hope other states will follow to protect patients and stand up to Big Pharma.”
DENVER — The following statement was issued by Lucy Westerfield, deputy executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, following the Colorado state legislature’s vote to pass SB 21-175, a bill that establishes a prescription drug affordability board designed to deliver relief to Coloradans suffering from high drug prices:
“The passage of SB 21-175 is a huge win for Colorado patients who have struggled with outrageous prescription drug prices for far too long. We are grateful to the Colorado state legislature for standing with patients and passing this groundbreaking bill to establish a prescription drug affordability board and meaningfully lower drug prices. We look forward to Governor Polis signing this bill into law.”
DENVER — Colorado patient advocate Kris Garcia will testify in front of the Colorado House Health and Insurance Committee today in support of SB 21-175, which would establish a prescription drug affordability board designed to deliver relief to Coloradans struggling with high drug prices.
Garcia, from Denver, lives with multiple bleeding disorders including hemophilia. He relies on a medication called Humate-P, which costs $10,000 per vial. Each time Garcia gets an infusion, he requires four vials.
“The cost of these prescriptions has affected many decisions in my life,” Garcia, a father of three, will say. “I had to give up my dream of being a business owner because of how expensive my medications were. I now work multiple jobs for almost 80 hours a week, just to afford my medications and other expenses.”
“I shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of financial ruin to my family just because of drug company prices,” Garcia will tell the committee. “I urge you to vote YES on SB 21-175. The bill would dramatically affect countless lives and save the livelihoods of Coloradans just like me. Please help fix this broken drug pricing system.”
SB 21-175 would create a prescription drug affordability board that would:
Garcia previously advocated for SB 21-175 at a press conference in March.
The hearing and Garcia’s testimony can be watched here at 1:30 PM MT.