|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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Patients For Affordable Drugs founder David Mitchell will tell his story of living with incurable blood cancer and will debunk Big Pharma’s claim that patients won’t get innovative drugs without paying high prices at a 10:00 AM hearing today on rising drug prices.
Read his full testimony here.
Mitchell’s testimony will highlight stories of patients skipping doses and going into debt to afford rising prescription drug prices. And he’ll focus on the fact that right now, nearly 1 in 3 adults report not taking their medicines as prescribed because of the cost. He’ll also discuss three legislative solutions to fix our broken system:
Key Points From Mitchell’s Testimony:
Patients For Affordable Drugs is a national patient organization focused exclusively on policies to lower prescription drug prices. We amplify the voices of Americans struggling under crushing drug prices to make policymakers and elected officials see the heavy toll of high-priced drugs. Patients For Affordable Drugs does not accept contributions from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, May 7 at 10:00 AM, Patients For Affordable Drugs Founder David Mitchell will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing on rising prescription drug prices.
Mitchell will discuss his journey as a patient with incurable blood cancer and will offer a number of solutions to lower drug prices. He will encourage bipartisan action to address this issue, including reforming the country’s patent laws, ending the days of monopoly pricing power without taxpayer negotiations, and forcing transparency from drug middlemen.
WHAT: Full Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, “Intellectual Property and the Price of Prescription Drugs: Balancing Innovation and Competition”
WHEN: Tuesday, May 7 at 10:00 AM
WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building 226, or watch online
Joshua D. Barker, Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
David Mitchell, President and Founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs
James Stansel, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Michael Carrier, Professor of law at Rutgers Law School
David S. Olson, Associate Professor at Boston College Law School
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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Big Pharma’s price hikes are under the microscope of the Senate Aging Committee this week with a hearing featuring patients hurt by the skyrocketing costs of their medicines.
“This hearing in the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Wednesday will be dedicated to the testimony of patients,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “Patients are sharing their stories and leading the fight to lower prescription drug prices. We are grateful Congress is listening. More importantly, millions of Americans are depending on Congress to move quickly to action.”
For patient interviews, contact [email protected].
Among those testifying Tuesday are Pam Holt, a retired teacher from Granger, IN and Sheldon Armus, a retiree from Boynton Beach, FL. The Medicare beneficiaries rely on expensive medications to survive.
Holt needs a cancer drug priced at $250,000 per year.
“On Medicare Part D, I went into and out of the donut hole in January — paying $4,950 the first month and then $640 for Revlimid every 28 days for the rest of the year. That cost was unaffordable for me and after just one year, it sent me into debt quickly. I was entirely underwater, and I made the heartbreaking decision to refinance my house,” Holt will tell the Senate Aging Committee.
Of the blood thinner he needs, Xarelto, Armus plans to say:
“Xarelto is one of my drugs; it is a blood-thinner that prevents dangerous blood clots that can lead to heart attacks. It is a new and expensive drug with a list price of more than $450 for a 30 day supply! It is outrageous. You’ve probably heard of Xarelto because it is heavily advertised to consumers on TV. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes Xarelto, has promised to start disclosing the list price of its medications on those ads.
But that wouldn’t make a difference for patients like me. There isn’t a generic on the market I could turn to instead.”
U.S. patients and taxpayers spend more than $450 billion each year on prescription drugs, by some estimates, nearly one-fifth of all health care costs. Patent-protected brand-name drugs drive spending, making up only about 10 percent of prescriptions but accounting for three-quarters of drug spending.