AUGUSTA, ME — Maine patients will urge legislators to hold drug corporations accountable for exorbitant price hikes and give the state power to negotiate lower prices during hearings today and Wednesday before the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a Washington, DC-based bipartisan patient advocacy organization that takes no money from the pharmaceutical industry, is helping patients share their drug pricing stories in Maine, sending four patients to testify at this week’s hearings on a package of bills to lower prescription drug prices. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now also published a series of patient stories on its website to underscore the urgency of the drug pricing crisis in Maine.
“Drug corporations have a direct line into Maine’s state coffers and patients’ pockets, and it’s time for the legislature to act,” said Ben Wakana, Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “We’ve heard from nearly 250 Mainers who are suffering under relentless prescription drug price hikes. We applaud consumer groups and the state legislature's efforts to rein in drug prices, and we are proud patients are standing up against abusive pricing practices.”
Here’s how the pending legislation would benefit Mainers:
LD 1162: Would require drug manufacturers to disclose the costs to develop, produce, and market certain drugs, and would build on a law passed last year that requires the Maine Health Data Organization to post the most expensive and commonly prescribed drugs in Maine.
LD 1272: Would create a state-administered program to import wholesale drugs from Canada, which could then be purchased at a significant discount. Under the program, Mainers would save millions on prescription drugs.
LD 1387: Would allow individuals to import prescription drugs from Canada.
LD 1499: Would create the Maine Prescription Drug Affordability Board, an independent body with the authority to evaluate high-cost prescription drugs and set reasonable rates. Drug manufacturers would have to justify the prices of their products and notify the board of price increases.
Testifying at the hearings today and Wednesday are:
Lori Dumont of Brewer: “My brother suffered ketoacidosis because he could not afford his insulin. Like so many others, his insulin costs were out of control. For both his long term and short term insulin he was paying about $1,500 a month. On a fixed income, high drug prices are literally a matter of life and death.”
Sabrina Burbeck of Old Town: “When my youngest son was 18 months old he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In order to survive, he relies on Humalog Insulin. One vial of Humalog costs $350.”
Glenda Smith of Kennebunk: “My Symbicort, Lostatin, Spiriva, and other medications cost me more than $1,200/month, not to mention the $5,000 we have to pay out of pocket before insurance even begins to pay its portion. That is not realistic on our fixed income. My drug costs alone are more than my entire Social Security check.”
Christina Raymond of Limestone: “In order to manage my disease, I require several medications –– Lupron, Tamoxifen, and Neulasta –– in addition to my regular chemo treatments. Lupron costs me $1,500 per month and my Neulasta runs $6,000 per shot.”