UPDATE: Thanks in part to your phone calls and lobbying, the bill passed the Committee on Health, Insurance & Environment 7 to 6 on March 8 AND the Finance Committee 7-6 on March 15. Both votes were along party lines. The second reading before the full House was repeatedly delayed.
Everyone should be able to afford the medicine they need to survive and thrive. Yet every day, Coloradans go without needed medicines because of outrageous price increases in drug costs.
The Big Pharma monopoly means that we pay more in the U.S. for our medicine than in any other country.
This bill proposed by State Rep. Joe Salazar (HB 18-1179) would allow the Colorado Attorney General to investigate and potentially prosecute Big Pharma’s unconscionable drug price increases. This bill would help protect Coloradans against the Big Pharma bullies.
The disparity between drug prices in the United States and other countries is shocking. Recent examples are the Epipen, which costs Americans more than $600, while Canadians can buy one for less than half that. Crestor is about $730 in the US, $160 in Canada. Abilify is $2,636 for a 90-day supply in the US, but only $436 in Canada.
Drug prices in the United States are outrageously high, causing many Americans to cross the border in order to secure the life-saving medications that they cannot afford. Others cut their pills in half, take them every other day or otherwise skimp on their dosage and wind up with an even more costly and unnecessary hospitalization or complication.
A report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that about 8 percent of adult Americans don’t take their medicines as prescribed because they can’t afford them while 6 percent of younger people with private insurance skipped medications to save money. See, Howard LeWine, M.D., “Millions of adults skip medications due to their high cost”, Harvard Health Publishing (January 30, 2015). In addition, the study found that 10 percnet of Medicaid patients and 14 percent of those with no insurance were unable to afford the medications that they need. This is a disgrace and it is morally wrong. We need to change this.
It is time to break the pharmaceutical industry’s stranglehold on US drug prices. As President Trump stated at his press conference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 Big Pharma is “getting away with murder” because “Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.”
People are suffering from treatable illness, unnecessary and costly hospitalizations and even death because they cannot afford the medications that would allow them to live normal productive lives. This is a moral outrage. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries because their governments care and it should not happen here.