California’s Groundbreaking Drug Pricing Effort Gains Steam

SACRAMENTO — A groundbreaking bill to lower prescription drug prices will move to the full Assembly floor. Assembly Bill 824 would stop Big Pharma from cutting deals that block less-expensive generic drugs for state residents — a tactic that limits patient choice and costs taxpayers billions each year.

AB 824 would:

  • Target a practice called “pay-for-delay,” in which brand drug corporations pay generic drug makers to delay the marketing and release of cheaper generic prescription drugs.

  • Make “pay-for-delay” deals illegal and provide the California Department of Justice a path to more easily investigate them.

  • Place the burden of proof on drug companies to prove to the California Attorney General’s Office that deals aren’t anticompetitive.

“California residents have been speaking out in support of the state’s effort to stop Big Pharma from cutting anti-competitive deals that keep drug prices high,” said Juliana Keeping, Communications Director for Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Thanks to a dirty tactic called 'pay-for-delay,' drug corporations are allowed to pay off generic competitors in an effort to maintain their monopoly and increase prices for patients. California patients have had enough and are sending a simple message: Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them.”
 
Here’s what California patients speaking out about the need to lower drug prices have to say:

Dorothy Nerli, Willows, CA: "I find I am faced with increased costs, like the time my Spiriva went up to $129. Spiriva helps to clear my airways, clearing out my lungs in order to make my breathing easier. I have scar tissue in my lungs due to several bouts of pneumonia. This is a horrible case of greed on the part of the manufacturers, who should lower the price of these medications. It shouldn’t cost seniors their rent or a healthy diet in order to be able to breathe.”

Elizabeth Reinboldi, Vacaville, CA: “If I weren’t able to get my medication, it would be a great detriment to my quality of life. I love to be involved with my church and volunteer as much as possible. I wouldn’t be able to do these things if I couldn’t get my medicine, or if the price goes up at all. I simply wouldn’t be able to walk due to the pain. We need lower drug prices as soon as possible.”
 
Sharon Fisher, Rio Vista, CA: “Because of the high price, my doctor put me on a cheaper drug: Tramadol. It does not work as well as the Lidocaine. I don’t get to do any of the activities that I used to love. I miss going to the gym and leading an active lifestyle, but my pain is simply too severe. Too many seniors have to go without medicine due to high out of pocket costs. Something needs to change –– and soon.”
 
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now is a Washington, DC-based patient advocacy organization that takes no money from the pharmaceutical industry or any other player in health care. As part of its ongoing campaign in support of the California legislation, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now:

  • Launched a 5-figure campaign to advance the bill  

  • Gave Californians digital tools to write hundreds of letters in support of AB 824 

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