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:
My name is Kris Garcia and I’m from Denver, Colorado. I have four bleeding disorders, asthma, and several allergies. Having multiple bleeding disorders, including hemophilia, leaves me in a constant position of uncertainty. I have to be incredibly careful, as any emergency can quickly turn into both a health and financial crisis. Since cauterization is more difficult with my bleeding disorders, I rely on Humate-P should an emergency occur. But the astronomical cost of these drugs only increases the stress of an emergency. Each vial of Humate-P costs $10,000, and for each infusion, I would need four vials.
These costs create a high level of stress for me and have exacerbated health costs for surgeries. When I had tonsil surgery a few years ago, the cost ended up being $1.8 million before insurance as I needed infusions every day and ended up staying in the hospital for a month and a half. The toll such a medical experience takes on someone is taxing enough; the financial burden only makes such a situation more stressful.
I keep four vials in the fridge, but should anything happen, I only have these four doses –– and anything beyond that would put me in financial ruin. Compared to other conditions, little is known about bleeding disorders, so finding a remedy can often be difficult. I’ve found one that has worked for me for the past 20 years, but unless I am receiving grants to cover the costs, there is no way I could afford these treatments.
Additionally, I’m stuck with a decision between high financial costs and risking my health when deciding whether to buy EpiPens for my allergies. The price of EpiPens has increased greatly over recent years and now costs about $600 for two EpiPens. Even with insurance, I would be paying $180 out of pocket. Comparatively, with my current coverage, an ER visit costs about $200. When budgets are tight, I’m left with a terrible decision –– do I play Russian roulette with my life and not buy the EpiPens to save that money, or do I take the risk that I may have to go to the ER should an emergency occur? I shouldn’t be left deciding which is the lesser of two evils, whether to pay for an expensive treatment or to risk my health to save on cost.
The cost of these prescriptions has affected many decisions in my life. I had to give up my business and seek other employment because of how expensive my insurance and medications were. Switching jobs becomes scary since my medications are often only available at special pharmacies, which are not always covered. I currently am insured through my work for an airline, but have a likely furlough coming in September. I’m incredibly concerned about where my coverage will come from, especially if I were to have an emergency.
I shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of a medical emergency also bringing financial ruin to me and my family. These astronomical drug prices have affected decisions in my life and have created a fear of financial ruin. Manufacturers get tons of government funds to produce drugs, but still profit off their patents and charge us unreasonable prices. We need changes to reduce these unaffordable prices so that people like me don’t live in a state of constant fear of whether we’ll be able to access our prescriptions.