|AUGUSTA — Patient advocate Sabrina Fuhrer will testify today in front of the Maine state legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services in favor of LD 1636, a bill that would lower the price of medications for Mainers. Right now, Americans pay nearly 4 times more for brand-name prescription drugs than other wealthy countries. Led by Maine Senator Ned Claxton, LD 1636, An Act To Reduce Prescription Drug Costs by Using International Pricing, would curb pharmaceutical price gouging in Maine by tying drug prices to prices in Canada.|
Patient advocate Sabrina Fuhrer, who lives in Old Town, will share her testimony about her 9-year-old son, Dakota, who lives with type 1 diabetes and relies on insulin to survive. Humalog, the type of insulin that Dakota is prescribed, is priced at $649.99 for a one month supply compared to Canada where the same amount is priced at $60.
“Patients in America pay more for prescription drugs than anywhere else in the world,” Sabrina, who is a frontline COVID-19 screener, will say to the committee. “In Canada, a vial of my son’s insulin costs less than $50. If I could obtain that price, I’d save hundreds of dollars a month and have so much peace of mind. Bringing prices for Mainers in line with what Canada pays would provide relief to so many families like mine who are struggling to make ends meet.”
In Maine, almost 1 in 3 adults have cut pills in half, skipped does, or rationed medications. Last year, Mainers paid over $170 million more on just 25 drugs, with the highest cost increases compared to the previous year.
“We need change,” Sabrina will conclude. “I urge you to support LD 1636 to protect my family, my patients, and fellow Mainers from the burden of high drug prices.”
An Act To Reduce Prescription Drug Costs by Using International Pricing would lower drug prices for Mainers by:
|LD 1636 builds on P4ADNow’s previous work in Maine including the passage of the state’s drug affordability board (LD 1499) and importation program (LD 1272) in 2019. In the 2021 session, Sabrina testified in support of legislation to create an insulin safety net program (LD 673) and a price transparency measure (LD 686). Both bills are now law.|
The hearing and Sabrina’s testimony can be watched here today at 10:00 AM ET. Written testimony is available upon request.
Following the hearing, the bill will be considered as part of the committee’s work session.
MAINE — Patients For Affordable Drugs Now launched a new ad today in Maine’s second congressional district thanking Rep. Jared Golden for fighting to let Medicare negotiate drug prices and asking him to get the job done by voting for the Build Back Better Act. The campaign includes TV and digital ads featuring patient advocate Kris Garcia, who lives with multiple bleeding disorders including hemophilia. It also includes grassroots advocacy, in which patients will write and thank Rep. Golden for his support of Medicare negotiation and ask him to pass the Build Back Better Act, including legislation to lower drug prices for patients.
“Each infusion of medicine that I need to live costs nearly $40,000. But without it, a minor accident can become a medical crisis for me and a financial crisis for my family,” Kris, a father of three based in Denver, explains in the ad. “For millions of Americans like me, this isn’t about politics — this is about life and death.”
Rep. Golden (ME-02) is a champion for allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. He campaigned on the issue and went on to vote for H.R. 3, a drug pricing measure that would allow Medicare negotiation, in 2019. Since then, he has continued to push for strong drug pricing legislation in an op-ed calling for the reform and a letter calling for inclusion of negotiation in the reconciliation package. Rep. Golden will have the opportunity to vote for passage of the current drug pricing reform legislation in the full package when it heads to the floor.
Watch the ME-02 ad here.
“Jared Golden is fighting to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices,” the adsays. “Tell Representative Golden, ‘thank you,’ and we’re counting on him to lower drug prices by voting yes for the Build Back Better Act.”
Below is a digital ad also running in the district:
“Rep. Golden has been a real champion for patients from day one. We want him to hear loud and clear: Thank you. A vote for the Build Back Better Act is a vote for patients and lower drug prices, and we have his back,” 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. “Medicare negotiation is the most popular part of the president’s Build Back Better Act, and 94 percent of Mainers in Rep. Golden’s district support the policy, which would lower drug prices. It’s time to get it done. ”
On Capitol Hill, Senate and House leadership along with President Biden are working to craft a reconciliation package that includes legislation to let Medicare negotiate and has the support of all Democratic members of Congress. The current House version of the package includes H.R. 3, a comprehensive bill that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices, which recently advanced out of the Ways and Means Committee.
AUGUSTA — The following statement was issued by Lucy Westerfield, deputy executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, following the Maine state house and senate votes to pass the Making Health Care Work for Maine package to lower drug prices:
“On behalf of Maine patients, we applaud the Maine state house and senate for passing Making Health Care Work for Maine, a strong bipartisan bill package that stands up to Big Pharma. If signed into law, two of the five bills — LD 675 and LD 1117 — will be the first-in-the-nation legislation of its kind to protect patients from pharmaceutical price gouging and unjustified price increases. Today’s passage is a significant milestone in the effort to provide meaningful relief to Mainers who struggle to afford their medications due to high prices.”
AUGUSTA — The following statement was issued by Lucy Westerfield, deputy executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, leading up to the Maine Senate and House votes on the Making Health Care Work for Mainepackage to lower drug prices. This statement follows the Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee votes last week to move the package to the floor of both chambers:
“Maine legislators have a clear choice to make when voting on the Making Health Care Work for Maine package — they can vote in favor of Maine patients who are struggling to afford high prescription drug prices, or they can vote in favor of Big Pharma’s interests.
“In order to protect Mainers from pharmaceutical price gouging and unnecessary price increases, the legislature must pass the strongest versions of LD 675 and LD 1117 along with the remainder of the package. That’s why next week, P4ADNow is launching a tool to mobilize Mainers to call on their legislators to support the full package. Patients need meaningful prescription drug price relief now.”
MAINE — Patients For Affordable Drugs Now kicks off a campaign today thanking Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02) for supporting H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a package of drug pricing reforms that includes allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices for Mainers. The campaign includes digital ads and grassroots advocacy, in which constituents will contact Rep. Golden to thank him for fighting for patients. The campaign comes after Big Pharma launched attack ads loaded with lies, pressuring Rep. Golden not to support H.R. 3.
“Big Pharma is trying to get Rep. Golden to bow to its power with lies and fear-mongering. But he is standing strong to win reforms that will lower the outrageous prices of prescription drugs,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Thanks to Rep. Golden’s leadership, we can pass H.R. 3 to ensure we get affordable medicines we need now and innovation for the future.”
The campaign launches with an ad highlighting patient advocate Marcus LaCour, who lives with type 1 diabetes. The ad will run on digital platforms in Maine’s second district.
You can watch the ad here.
“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 15 years old. Because insulin is so expensive, I’ve had to skip and ration my doses. My wife has had to skip meals so that we could afford the insulin that I needed to survive,” LaCour, a Cincinnati husband, father, minister, and drug affordability advocate says in the video ad. “No family should have to make that decision. For millions of Americans, it’s serious enough that we need help.”
H.R. 3 was recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives. The chamber passed the bill in the 116th Congress. H.R. 3 is a comprehensive bill that 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.
The Maine campaign is part of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now’s seven-figure national campaign launching in 42 House districts across 22 states and in D.C.
My name is Lori Dumont and I am from Brewer, Maine. Unfortunately, I know all too well what it is like to struggle to afford medication since I have seen my brother struggle with his prescription costs.
It all started when my then 56-year-old brother did not show up to work. This worried his co-workers, who called his neighbors to check on him. The neighbors, not getting a response, then called the paramedics. My brother was found dead. Paramedics worked diligently to revive him and he was rushed to the hospital and put on life support. His core temp was 88 degrees at the time he was found. He was immediately airlifted to another hospital where he remained on life support, not expected to live. The following evening, by the grace of God, he woke up and there was no brain damage. He spent the next month in the hospital being treated for the damages caused to his body from the ordeal, including kidney failure. Despite all that happened, I still feel lucky that I did not lose my brother that day.
All of this could have been avoided. My brother suffered ketoacidosis because he could not afford his insulin. Like so many others, his insulin costs were out of control. For both his long term and short term insulin he was paying about $1,500 a month. On a fixed income, high drug prices are literally a matter of life and death. My brother had not told anyone he was struggling to afford his insulin and was trying to control his diabetes through diet alone, which is a dangerous and deadly practice.
I am the only one he could depend on to be his advocate and support system. I have my own set of health issues that I deal with, but the role of a caregiver was almost a full-time job and my brother’s needs always came first. I was with him eight hours a day at the hospital and applied to every assistance program I possibly could on his behalf so he would have all he needed to be alright when he was discharged. He could no longer work and his kidneys were no longer functioning so he was going to need SSDI, food stamps, Mainecare, and help to get his rent paid so he wouldn’t lose his apartment. Most importantly, I had to make sure he had insulin waiting for him when he was discharged. A program at his local hospital gives insulin to people in dire need, and thank God he got enough to last until he was approved for Mainecare.
If insulin were more affordable, both of our lives would have been stress-free, both for him as a patient and me as a caretaker. It is a huge burden not knowing if you will be able to afford your medication each month. It’s scary to think that insulin might not be there when you get out of the hospital, which you were in because of not being to afford insulin in the first place. No one should have to experience those feelings.
My brother’s story is not rare. Fortunately, he survived. However, there are many who do not. The root of the problem is the high drug prices. The drug companies are literally letting people die because they cannot afford medication. It’s not right. Patients must have access to the drugs they need to survive. As a caretaker and a sister, I am seeing the impact firsthand. Something must be done –– and soon.
My name is Cheryl and I live in Maine. When my husband, Harold, was prescribed Spiriva to manage his COPD three years ago, we were grateful there was a medication that could effectively manage his symptoms and allow him to continue to work. But we were shocked when we found out the medication would cost us $1,200 every three months. We simply can’t afford that, but Harold needs the medication.
We were forced to make choices no one should ever have to make — keep paying for electricity, or pay for Harold’s medication? Buy healthy groceries, or pay for Harold’s medication? For us, there was no option. We kept paying the $1,200 and stopped paying for our electricity. We stopped buying meat and other nutritious food and stuck to canned soups and noodles, all so my husband could breathe.
We are lucky — after a year, we were able to qualify for a plan that covers much of Harold’s expenses for the Spiriva. It has meant we can return to life more or less as normal. But we are at the mercy of the assistance program and it will stop at the end of the year. That means we will be faced with applying all over again, a process that took a full year last time. Come January, we might be back where we were before — making sacrifices so Harold can breathe.
Without Spiriva, Harold would not be able to work as a farmhand growing potatoes in our home state of Maine. We would be dependent on my salary from managing a local McDonald’s. We have a good life. We like our jobs, and we are proud of our hard work. But right now we know our lives could change as soon as the financial assistance ends. I live in fear of that day.
No one should have to make the choices we have. We need drug prices to come down now.
My name is Nilton Leon, and I am a hardworking father from Santa Ana, California. I also have type 2 diabetes, an illness I was diagnosed with in 2010. It has caused me great hardship in my life and has greatly affected my finances as well.
My doctor and I tried out various insulins and treatments, and we ended up landing on a routine that worked for me. I was prescribed Lantus, Lisinopril, Atorvastatin, Victoza, and Metformin for my diabetes and high blood pressure. I found that this regimen really transformed my health.
Everything was going well until I suddenly become unemployed. I lost my health insurance at that point, along with my prescription coverage. When I went to fill my medication at my pharmacy, I was shocked to find that the cost had become outrageously high. Suddenly, my Victoza and Metformin were $100 each. There is no way I can afford that.
Because of the high cost, I was forced to stop taking my medicine. I was living off of unemployment, and that barely covered my rent. I just couldn’t pay for my Victoza and Metformin anymore.
My health deteriorated. I got sick. My kidneys started going bad because of my high sugar levels. I lost a ton of weight and began to lose my hair. My energy was so low that I could no longer keep up with my loved ones.
I recently was able to get back on health insurance. I am now paying only $15 per medicine, but the costs still add up and it still takes a good chunk of my budget.
I am glad I no longer have to skip my medications, but I fear for the day that I am unable to pay for them once again. I know I am not the only one who faces these high drug prices. Patients like me shouldn’t have to fear for their health just because they can’t afford their medications. These medications are simply too expensive.