It’s a new year and drug pricing reform is here to stay. Here are our top 5 takeaways from 2018:
1. Patient Voices Grew Louder — Drugs Don’t Work If People Can’t Afford Them.
Patients delivered this bipartisan message to their elected officials, to the media, and with their votes. They wrote letters, signed petitions, and testified on Capitol Hill and at statehouses, determined to lower drug prices. Patients like Pam Holt, a retired schoolteacher thrown into debt to afford her prescription for multiple myeloma, are fueling a growing movement to lower the prices of prescription drugs.
"Sick people should not have to increase the profits of these huge drug corporations,” Holt told CBS This Morning. “At some point, there needs to be understanding that people should be able to have the drugs that they need to survive."
2. Patient Influence Expanded in Washington, DC
Patients helped block a terrible $4 billion Big Pharma bailout, killing a deceptive, months-long pharmaceutical industry lobbying campaignaimed at federal lawmakers. Congress passed legislation banning gag clauses, improving transparency, and helping patients get the best price for their prescriptions at the pharmacy counter. And, after patients took action to stop pay-for-delay deals that stall cheaper biosimilars from coming to market, Sens. Klobuchar and Grassley heard the outrage and proposed bipartisan legislation to address the issue.
3. States Took A Stand
States like Maryland have become trendsetters for federal reform. And where states don’t at first succeed — it’s try, try again. Maryland reforms that went into effect Oct. 1, 2018 influenced federal legislation. Maryland patient advocates are continuing their work to establish a board to negotiate drug prices on behalf of patients and taxpayers.
Patient Advocates in 2018 spoke in favor of drug pricing legislation in states like Connecticut and Oregon where transparency legislation passed, requiring Big Pharma to submit price reports on planned prescription drug price hikes. In 2018, reporters sought and received records on planned price hikes made public by California’s first-in-the-nation drug pricing transparency law, opening secretive, routine drug price hikes to fierce public scrutiny. (BTW, make sure to check out our new legislative map, which features state drug pricing legislation proposed in 2018.)
4. From the Kitchen Table to the Ballot Box
Runaway prescription drugs prices know no party. It’s a kitchen table issue, and voters stood ready to act in 2018. In Massachusetts, voters powered Gov. Charlie Baker to victory after he listened to patients and promised action to lower drug prices. Voters ousted industry apologists like incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who took industry cash and told seniors to “shop around” for lower drug prices. Similarly, Big Pharma CEO Bob Hugin drove cancer patients into debt and then lost his bid for a New Jersey U.S. Senate seat.
5. The Blinding Glare of Patient Scrutiny
A Midterm campaign run by Patients For Affordable Drugs Action proved Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, has long done pharma’s bidding, leaving patients who rely on expensive life-saving drugs exposed to higher drug prices, longer. Eshoo — who is the likely chair of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health — knows patients are watching.
Happy 2019. Cheers to a fruitful year of drug pricing reform!
— The Team at Patients For Affordable Drugs NOW.