OLYMPIA, WA — Washington patients are one step closer to relief from skyrocketing prescription drug prices. SB 5292 and HB 1224 — legislation that would shed light on drug manufacturers’ pricing behavior — passed key policy committees recently and heads to the fiscal committees this week. Given the recent momentum, patients are speaking out about the devastating impact of rising drug prices and explaining how drug pricing legislation would help protect the state and residents from price hikes.
“Washington residents have been sending a clear message to lawmakers in support of the state’s effort to shed a light on rising prescription drug prices,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We all pay for Pharma’s unfettered greed, and Washington residents are struggling to fill both the kitchen pantry and the medicine cabinet. The status quo needs to change, and SB 5292 and HB 1224 are a step in the right direction.”
Patients Take Action: Last week, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now launched a new digital campaign to give Washington residents tools to contact their elected officials in support of measures to address rising drug prices. The campaign has included:
Patients testifying: Mike Gaffney, of Olympia, testified earlier this month that he lives with a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. The price for his cancer medication, Revlimid, skyrocketed 20 percent in 2017 alone. The drug now costs $250,000 a year.
Letter-writing campaign: 2,422 Washington residents have written to state lawmakers in support of the measures.
Digital ads: Facebook ads allowed residents to contact their senators and representatives in support of the proposed changes.
Washington Legislation would:
Require drug corporations to report drug price increases impacting Washingtonians.
Require drug manufacturers to justify those increases to the state.
Mandate that the state analyze the data and provide annual reports to the public.
Patients Speak Out:
Teresa Hartley of Blaine lives with a life-threatening disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis. High costs for her medications, Cytoxan and Rituxan, forced the retired psychotherapist to file for bankruptcy. Teresa said: “I am a senior citizen on a fixed income, and there are others like me in the state of Washington. If I did not have health insurance, the price of the drugs I had to take would have led to my death. I already lost my livelihood due to high healthcare costs. I don’t want to lose my life. Washingtonians deserve legislation that works to lower drug prices, because drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them.”
Tori Howard of Seattle has a college-aged son living with Type 1 diabetes. She watched her son’s insulin costs rise from $60 to $2,000 per month in 14 years. Today, he rations insulin, permanently damaging his health to afford the lifesaving drug he needs. She said: “Not being able to keep his blood numbers in a good range because of rationing is causing irreversible damage to his body. He is already having diabetic nerve pain in his legs, heart problems, and damage to his sight.”
Chrystal Beard of Auburn lives with bipolar disorder, and without her medication, Pristiq, would be unable to get out of bed. She told P4ADNow: “Without this medication, I fear for my life. In the past, the cost of my medication has skyrocketed. When I was between insurances, my sister had to help me pay for my medications because I’m on a fixed income on disability. She was forced to pay over $1,500 a month for my medication during that time. Nobody should have to pay that price to maintain their mental health.”