7 Drug CEOs are set to testify –– Read these 7 patient stories first

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The price hikes orchestrated by executives from seven major drug corporations testifying today before the Senate Finance Committee have emotionally, financially, and physically harmed patients across America. Before the hearing, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now is sharing stories from seven patients to illustrate the impact of high drug prices.
 
“We are sharing these stories because we want members of the Senate Finance Committee to understand the harm exacted by the executives sitting before them,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Big Pharma needs to accept responsibility and lower list prices.”
 
Below, please find a story about a patient suffering under high prescription drug prices for each of the seven corporations represented at the Senate hearing and questions we hope lawmakers will ask the drug executives. You can read Patients For Affordable Drugs Now’s full testimony for the record here.
 
ABBVIE
 
James Baer from Aurora, CO, requires AbbVie’s Humira: “I have seropositive degenerative rheumatoid arthritis, and am on a regimen of high-cost drugs. Humira is the most expensive, at $4,500-$6,500 a month. My insurance, Humana, is refusing to pay for it starting next month. My doctor says I need it to win my fight against this genetic defect.”
 
Questions: 

  • Is it fair that Europeans have access to a less-expensive biosimilar competitor for Humira, but your company bragged about blocking that competition in the U.S.?

  • Do you partake in pay for delay or deals for delay? Do you support the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act (S.64)?

 
PFIZER
 
Helen Sgarlat from Kingston, PA requires Pfizer’s Spinriva: “Because of the $600 price tag, I had to switch medications. I switched from Spiriva to one that's not working as well, Singulair. This is outrageous.”
 
Questions:

  • Will you commit to limiting the increase in list price of your drugs to the rate of inflation?

  • Will you commit to submitting to this committee at the end of this year (2019) a report of the ways you have utilized the $10 billion stock buyback to serve patients?

 
SANOFI
 
Jerraline Krawetzki from Berlin Heights, OH, needs a Sanofi insulin: “Because of diabetes type 2, Lantus and Humalog are required. Because of the increased costs of these medications, after filling the first prescriptions, already IN the donut hole. This means a one month prescription of these 2 drugs, will cost over $600 per month. Senior citizens on a fixed income cannot afford this.”

Questions:

  • If PBM rebates were eliminated, would you lower your list prices?

  • Will you commit to undoing the dozens of times you’ve raised the price of Lantus and lower the list price this year?


MERCK

Stephen Hadfield from Charlotte, NC requires Merck’s Januvia
: “I am on very expensive insulin for my diabetes. My Januvia is $400 a month and my Lantus is $350 every three weeks. If it was not for insurance, I would not be able to afford these drugs.”
 
Questions:

  • Will you submit, for the record, the cost of research and development for the drug Keytruda, which reaped a total of $1.89 billion the third quarter of 2018 alone ––  an increase of 80% since 2017?

 
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
 
Sarah Pekarske from Texas needs the J&J drug Xarelto: “I have Lupus and I have had 3 blood clot episodes. I take Xarelto. In August of last year it was suddenly $100/month. It has cost $150/month since September! This is too expensive for me.”

Questions:

  • Will you commit to holding your price increases to inflation each year?

  • Will you commit to striking a deal with the New York Drug Utilization Review Board if they deem it necessary to decrease the cost of Remicade for state taxpayers?


BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB

Tara from Kansas needs the Bristol-Myers Squibb medication Opdivo: “Drug prices are killing me faster than the disease. When I first started taking my blood thinner a few years ago, I thought $400 a month was terrible. Now, I wonder how I can possibly afford the next dose of Opdivo. I can't. Without it I die. With it I go broke. What kind of choice is that? No one should ever be put in this position. No one should make this choice ever.”
 
Questions:

  • Will you commit to donating 50% less to candidates for public office in 2020 and investing that money toward research and development or decreasing prices for patients?

  • With your recent acquisition of Celgene, will you commit to ending Celgene’s use of the REMS program to prevent a generic from coming to market for its blockbuster drug, Revlimid?

 
ASTRAZENECA
 
Teresa Bianco from Elyria, OH needs the AstraZeneca blood pressure medication Crestor: “We have a family history of dangerously high cholesterol levels. My sister and I have been on every medicine out there. The only one that lowers us into the high 200s is Crestor. It is not covered by our insurances and thus is out of our reach. Sadly, we are both RN's and see others also go through this. We are college educated, helping people, always gainfully employed full time, but we are apparently disposable.”
 
Questions:

  • Will you submit for the record the following information: the amount you have spent on research and development vs. AstraZeneca’s yearly budget for marketing and advertising?  

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