Statement on President Trump’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to comments President Trump made in his State of the Union Address about prescription drug prices, David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, issued the following statement:
 
“We appreciate President Trump’s continued focus on the country’s drug pricing crisis. But, two years into his term, prices are still going up, patients are still struggling, and Big Pharma is breaking records lobbying Congress to keep it that way.
 
“We’re glad the President touched on his plan to bring U.S drug prices more in line with what other wealthy countries pay. The International Pricing Index would lower the cost of America’s most expensive drugs by 30 percent. The plan has merit, and we urge the President to advance this proposal.
 
“That being said, not nearly enough has been accomplished and additional action is urgently needed. The list prices of drugs need to come down. Patients need Congress and the Executive branch to fix our broken system.
 
“Every day, Americans experience heartbreaking stress and financial pain due to high drug prices. Ruth Rinehart, of Tampa, Florida’s $52,000 prescription drug costs forced her to declare bankruptcy and lose her family home. The time for action is now.”
 
BACKGROUND
 
Drug costs are out of control

  • Americans spend more than $450 billion each year on prescription drugs — by some estimates, nearly one-fifth of all health care costs go toward prescription drugs.

  • The main driver of prescription drug spending is patent-protected brand-name drugs, which make up only about 10 percent of prescriptions but account for three-quarters of drug spending.

 
Americans pay more for drugs than any other country

  • CNN: “Americans pay anywhere from two to six times more than the rest of the world for brand name prescription drugs.”

  • The New York Times: “A government study said Medicare was paying 80 percent more than other advanced industrial countries for some of the most costly physician-administered medicines.”

  • Senate Finance Congressional Testimony: “Revenues generated just from sales in America would fund 176 percent of the global pharmaceutical research and development budgets for these companies.”

 
Drug prices are rising, not falling

  • Associated Press: An analysis found that through the end of last July there were 4,412 brand-name drug price increases and merely 46 price cuts—a ratio of 96-to-1.

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Medicare beneficiaries’ costs for branded drugs rose by 40 percent — from $161 in 2011 to $225 in 2015.

  • Health Affairs/Vox: “Prices for drugs of all types and from all classes (brand-name, specialty, generics/oral or injectable) have been rising faster than inflation…from 2008 to 2016.”

 
High drug prices hurt patients

  • Kaiser Family Foundation: 1 out of 4 patients report that in the past year they or a family member have not filled a prescription (24 percent) or have skipped a dose or cut pills in half (19 percent) because of the cost.

  • NPR: “Insulin's high cost leads to lethal rationing.”

  • Vox: “It means that our system, even if we don't like to admit it, has to pick and choose who gets access to lifesaving drugs.”

 
Drug companies are rich and excessive

  • The Washington Post: “9 out of 10 big pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than on research.”

  • JAMA: “From 1997 through 2016...DTC prescription drug advertising increased from $1.3 billion to $6 billion with a shift toward advertising high-cost biologics and cancer immunotherapies.”

  • Axios: “Nine drug companies are spending a combined $50 billion on new share buyback programs...The large buyback programs are rolling out while the same pharmaceutical companies raise drug prices and while Americans struggle to afford their prescriptions.”
     

Big Pharma rigged the system

  • Open Secrets: “Pharmaceutical groups are spending heavily to influence public opinion and policy as rising drug prices become an increasingly mainstream political talking point. The industry claimed the top spot among lobbying spenders in 2018 — roughly $280 million — with no other industry coming close.”

  • STAT News: “PhRMA spent a record-breaking $27.5 million on lobbying in 2018.”

  • Axios: “Those totals don't include the millions individual drug companies spent on their own lobbyists. They also don't include the industry's campaign contributions, which topped $17 million in the 2018 cycle.”

 
Americans demand reform

  • Harvard/Politico: 8 in 10 Americans want Congress to act and lower prescription drug prices.

  • Kaiser Family Foundation: “72 percent of people think the drug industry has too much influence in Washington — outweighing the 69 percent who feel that way about Wall Street or the 52 percent who think the NRA has too much power.”

  • GS Strategies: There is overwhelming bipartisan support for the CREATES Act. More than 83 percent of voters support passage of the CREATES Act and almost 6 in 10 strongly support it.
     

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