Patients Speak: Senate Aging Committee Highlights Skyrocketing Drug Costs

WASHINGTON, DC — 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 juliana@p4adnow.org.
 
Patient perspectives:
 
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.

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