WASHINGTON, D.C. — From coast to coast, patients are speaking out, and Big Pharma is on the run. Over the last two weeks, from California to Maine, states have taken meaningful steps to protect patients from higher drug prices and crack down on Big Pharma’s price gouging. Take a look:
Oregon (HB 2658)
California (AB 824)
Maryland (HB 768)
“Momentum is building across the country,” said Ben Wakana, Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Patients are turning up at statehouses to tell lawmakers just how harmful high drug prices have become — their voices are seeding a movement.”
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine patients will urge legislators to hold drug corporations accountable for exorbitant price hikes and give the state power to negotiate lower prices during hearings today and Wednesday before the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan patient advocacy organization that takes no money from the pharmaceutical industry, is helping patients share their drug pricing stories in Maine, sending four patients to testify at this week’s hearings on a package of bills to lower prescription drug prices. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now also published a series of patient stories on its website to underscore the urgency of the drug pricing crisis in Maine.
“Drug corporations have a direct line into Maine’s state coffers and patients’ pockets, and it’s time for the legislature to act,” said Ben Wakana, Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We’ve heard from nearly 250 Mainers who are suffering under relentless prescription drug price hikes. We applaud consumer groups and the state legislature’s efforts to rein in drug prices, and we are proud patients are standing up against abusive pricing practices.”
Here’s how the pending legislation would benefit Mainers:
Testifying at the hearings today and Wednesday are:
Lori Dumont of Brewer: “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.”
Sabrina Burbeck of Old Town: “When my youngest son was 18 months old he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In order to survive, he relies on Humalog Insulin. One vial of Humalog costs $350.”
Glenda Smith of Kennebunk: “My Symbicort, Lostatin, Spiriva, and other medications cost me more than $1,200/month, not to mention the $5,000 we have to pay out of pocket before insurance even begins to pay its portion. That is not realistic on our fixed income. My drug costs alone are more than my entire Social Security check.”
Christina Raymond of Limestone: “In order to manage my disease, I require several medications –– Lupron, Tamoxifen, and Neulasta –– in addition to my regular chemo treatments. Lupron costs me $1,500 per month and my Neulasta runs $6,000 per shot.”
BOSTON — Massachusetts patients will speak out against high drug prices tomorrow during testimony in favor of sweeping state reforms that would require drug corporations to justify exorbitant prices and give the state negotiation power on behalf of patients and taxpayers. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a Washington, DC-based bipartisan patient advocacy organization that takes no money from the pharmaceutical industry, is helping patients share their drug pricing stories in Massachusetts, sending two patients to testify before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing tomorrow and publishing a raft of patient stories on its website to underscore the urgency of the drug pricing crisis in Massachusetts.
“Drug corporations have a direct line into Massachusetts’ state coffers and patients’ pockets, and it’s time for the legislature to act,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We’ve heard from 265 Bay staters who are suffering under relentless prescription drug price hikes. We applaud Gov. Baker, consumer groups, and the state legislature’s efforts to rein in drug prices, and we are proud patients are standing up against abusive pricing practices.”
HB 1133 and SB 706 would:
Testifying at tomorrow’s hearing are:
Mary Mack of Nantucket: Mary lives with advanced heart failure due to a rare type of genetic muscular dystrophy. The symptoms of her disease—fatigue and shortness of breath—make it difficult to accomplish even the simplest task. Mary was on Entresto for only five months when the copay went up to $225 a month. The expense became too much for her family, so she stopped taking the drug.
Helen Fonseca of Tewksbury: Helen faces Crohn’s Disease. She plans to tell lawmakers: “I take Apriso. Before I retired, this drug cost $60 for a three-month supply. However, once I retired three years ago, the cost skyrocketed, going up to $500 for the same supply. There is no generic for this drug, even though its patent has run out. This cost is absurd. And for people like me who are on a fixed income, this cost is often impossible to pay.”
MORE PATIENT PERSPECTIVES:
Kathleen Rider, Otis, MA: “I am on a fixed income and am forced to shell out $145 for the medication every three months. It adds up. The stress of having such a costly medicine does affect my mental health. This is a necessary medication for me.”
Diane Sarmento, Lowell, MA: “I am a Medicare patient who was prescribed Ampyra, which is meant to strengthen my muscles and improve my overall quality of life. But the price of this drug is prohibitive: when I can’t get assistance, I can’t afford it.”
John Wood, West Springfield, MA: “I have type 2 diabetes that I work to keep at bay by living a healthy lifestyle. However, I also take Onglyza to help maintain my A1C levels. I usually fall into the Medicare donut hole within 6 months, causing a coverage gap. That’s when the price skyrockets to upwards of $450.”
According to recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 25 percent of Americans say they trust drug corporations to price their products fairly. Nearly one in four Americans report difficulty affording their prescription medications.