HARRISBURG, PA — As Pennsylvania state lawmakers weigh key measures to protect residents from Big Pharma’s skyrocketing drug prices, patients are calling for reform. One bill would require more transparency from drug manufacturers, triggered by price increases that hit certain thresholds. A second measure would establish a Prescription Drug Pricing Task Force to study the issue of rising drug prices and recommend legislative solutions.
HB 568 would:
Require drugmakers report to the state insurance department research and development costs, marketing and advertising spending, a history of price increases, and other information when drug prices hit certain thresholds.
HB 1042 would:
Create a task force designated to study prescription drug prices in the state of Pennsylvania.
Require the task force issue a report within one year that includes suggested legislative remedies to make prescription drugs more affordable.
“Pennsylvanians are desperate for relief from crushing drug prices,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “While there is still work to be done to lower the list prices of drugs, these important bills could give state residents more information about rising costs and reasonable solutions to assuage unrelenting price increases.”
Today, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now published a series of patient stories on its website to underscore the urgency of the drug pricing crisis in Pennsylvania.
Melissa Evans, Wilkes-Barre, PA: “Affording all of the medications I need to survive has become such a burden. I have to make many difficult decisions to make sure my needs are met. Half of the time I don't even take my prescriptions because the co-pays are just far too high. I don't fill it if I can't afford it –– it’s as simple as that.”
Michelle Rzeplinski, McAdoo, PA: “These drug prices are killing me, both in the physical and the financial sense. If my drugs were more affordable, my health would greatly improve. Lower prices would mean better access to the medications that are prescribed to me.”
Lynn Seabrook, Wilkes-Barre, PA: “It is sad to say, but I sometimes feel like I would be better off dead –– especially at the end of the month, after prescriptions have been purchased and we are completely broke. My husband has not had a new pair of shoes in years, and I worry about the burden my drug costs places on my family.”
Americans pay anywhere from two to six times more than the rest of the world for brand-name prescription drugs.
According to one report, the retail price of a vial of insulin in the U.S. is over $300. In Canada, the same vial costs $32.
From 2011 to 2016, prescription drug spending in the U.S. grew by 28 percent, which was more than 2.5 times inflation during that time period.
Forty two percent of cancer patients deplete their entire net worth in the first two years of treatment, in part because of high drug pricing.
Drug spending growth will accelerate by 31 percent by 2023.