Basey Has Devoted Her Career To Ensuring That Life-saving Medications Are Affordable And Accessible For All Who Need Them
Merith Basey, MSc, has been named executive director of the bipartisan advocacy organization, Patients For Affordable Drugs and its sister organization Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. Basey arrives at a key moment when sweeping reforms to the U.S. drug price system are being implemented and advocates are turning to other key policies that require improvement to ensure patients and all Americans can afford the drugs they need.
“I believe that no one should be poor because they are sick or be sick because they are poor,” Basey said. “This new position enables me to continue my lifelong work in support of that long held belief.”
“There is no doubt that the landmark drug price provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act will help improve the lives of millions of Americans. Ensuring both the effective and timely implementation of the law will, of course, be critical,” continued Basey. “Looking forward, there are other key areas of the drug price system that must be tackled: patent reform, ensuring PBMs actually benefit patients, and fair launch prices for new drugs. Cell and gene therapies are coming to market with price tags as high as $2.8 million. Many more therapies of this type are in the pipeline for diseases like sickle-cell anemia, and exorbitant prices will be barriers to access for communities that need them the most.”
Basey was selected after an extensive months-long search process. Her commitment to health equity began nearly two decades ago working alongside young people living with type 1 diabetes in Ecuador. Her formative grassroots organizing combined with a master’s degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine motivated her to co-found the 100 Campaign in 2012, aimed at reframing the narrative around insulin access as a human rights issue and reducing the barriers to access.
“We are very pleased to have Merith step into this role to lead an extremely talented team of professionals who have already shown how to organize and mobilize patients to stand up, tell their stories, and demand change,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder and president of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “Merith brings extensive knowledge and skill in movement building, advocacy, prescription drug development and policy, and not-for-profit management, along with strong academic preparation. She is a great fit for our organization and will add fresh perspectives that will strengthen us for the future.”
Most recently, Basey has spent eight years as executive director of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), an international, student-driven organization that seeks to improve access to and affordability of life-saving medicines researched and developed at universities. In March 2020, she launched the Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign via UAEM and, in conjunction with the Center for Artistic Activism, advocated that COVID tests, treatments, and vaccines be sustainably priced, available to all, and free at the point of delivery.
Patients For Affordable Drugs is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on policy changes to lower prescription drug prices. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization focused on advancing policies to lower drug prices. Both are independent and bipartisan and neither accepts funding from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.
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 signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law:
“President Biden made history today by signing into law the Inflation Reduction Act that will lower prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs for millions of Americans. President Biden, along with Democrats in the Senate and House, fulfilled their promises to the American people by standing firm in the face of assaults from Big Pharma and passing unprecedented reforms. As a result, they have changed the trajectory of drug pricing in the United States. We are grateful for the President’s commitment to the issue and for delivering relief to millions of Americans.
“Patient advocates across the country who shared their personal experiences of the burden of high drug prices made this monumental victory possible. We are humbled and energized by patient advocates’ power to move the will of Congress. Our work to ensure all patients can afford the medications they need will continue.”
Read a letter from David Mitchell to our community of patient advocates here.
Something remarkable happened this week: You changed the course of history.
Because of you and this community of patients, families, and allies, Congress passed and the President signed into law historic legislation that will lower prescription drug prices for millions of Americans.
For the first time ever:
Big Pharma — with more than 1,500 lobbyists on Capitol Hill — fought these reforms with all its might, spending at least $56 million on advertising and more than $100 million on lobbying in the past year. It lied about the impact of the legislation, tried to scare patients with dire warnings that new innovative drugs would not be available, and even directly threatened members of Congress. We overcame all of it because of you.
Our community and the American people rose up and said Enough! And finally, after years of effort, we overcame the most powerful lobby in the country. The legislation does not include everything we hoped for, but make no mistake — it changes the trajectory of drug prices and policy in the United States. It finally begins to break the power of multinational drug corporations to dictate prices of brand name drugs to the American people.
I cannot emphasize this enough: The victory would not have been achieved without tireless advocacy from people such as yourself. Your dedication to sharing your real, lived experiences and to write a letter or make a phone call made it possible to reach policymakers in Washington and counter the power of the drug companies; you are the force behind these reforms. Thank you.
We thank the members of the House and Senate and President Biden who stood with patients to achieve this hard fought victory. There is more work to do to lower drug prices for all patients, including many members of this community. Our work is not done, and we will not stop here — we will keep fighting for all patients whose prices are too high.
More importantly please remember, this victory shows we can make progress, we can achieve meaningful change to help millions of Americans. Together we will continue the work to reform our system in order to make it work better for the people it is supposed to serve — rather than the people who profit from it.
Thank you for being a part of this movement.
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 the House of Representatives’ passage of the Inflation Reduction Act:
“Today marks a moment many Americans have been fighting for for decades; Congress stood up to Big Pharma and passed the historic drug price provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that will lower prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs for millions of Americans. With this legislation, we have changed the trajectory of drug pricing policy in the United States. We have finally begun to break the power of multinational drug corporations to dictate prices of brand-name drugs to the American people.
“Thank you to the Democrats in Congress who have been fighting for these reforms for literally decades, and to Speaker Pelosi for her steely, determined leadership on the issue and swift passage of the legislation.
“For years, hundreds of thousands of patients across America have tirelessly advocated for these changes – they are the force behind these monumental reforms. There’s still more to be done to address other features of our system to ensure all Americans can afford their medications, and we will continue to push for the additional reforms needed. But for now, this legislation will rein in prices, lower out-of-pocket costs, and improve the lives of millions.
“We look forward to President Biden putting his signature on the Inflation Reduction Act and getting to work on implementation.”