Stabenow Unveils New Legislation to Lower Cost of Prescription DrugsThursday, March 29, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) unveiled new legislation aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs during events across the state in Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Ishpeming, and Traverse City. Americans pay – by far – the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Prices for the most popular brand-name drugs have risen 208% from 2008 to 2016, according to AARP.
“I continue to stand up to the drug lobbyists and special interests because it is morally wrong to keep prices for your medications so high,” said Senator Stabenow. “The passage of my legislation would make a major difference for Michigan families.”
Pharmaceutial and health product lobbying reached $279 million last year, more than any other industry. Stabenow is announcing three pieces of legislation that will combat rising prescription drug costs:
- The bipartisan Know the Lowest Price Act (S.2553) cracks down on outrageous gag clauses that stop pharmacists from telling customers that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket.
- The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act (S.1688) would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts of their drugs, which is banned under current law.
- And the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (S. 469) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations permitting wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import drugs from licensed Canadian sellers that are manufactured at facilities inspected by the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, Americans pay about 40 percent more on prescriptions per person than Canadians do.
More details on Senator Stabenow’s prescription drugs legislation may be found here.
"Michigan pharmacists are active members of the community and are committed to providing quality care to our patients and their families," said Larry Wagenknecht, CEO of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. “We support Senator Stabenow's Know the Lowest Price Act, because our pharmacists should never be prohibited from helping patients pay less to get the prescriptions they need.”
"I have had three unique cancers, all unrelated, and also the BRAC2 gene, which makes me a good candidate for the new targeted cancer drugs that are very costly,” said Cindy Welc, a 65-year-old retired teacher from Bingham Farms. “I started paying only $25, but this drug costs so much that I hit my insurance cap after only seven months. It now costs $2,000 per month out of pocket. No one should have to pay that much for medicine that is keeping them alive. I am so thankful to Senator Stabenow for taking action to lower prescription drug costs for everyone.”
“I am required to take two different eye drops daily, and the cost of each has escalated to a point where it has become cost-prohibitive,” said Sidney Fox, a 78-year-old resident of Walled Lake. “Lumigan costs $308 monthly and Alphagon $246 monthly. In my mind, this represents nothing short of price gouging by the pharmaceutical companies. I genuinely appreciate Senator Stabenow’s efforts to address these issues.”
“I rely on prescription medications to treat my high blood pressure,” said Susan Marlow, a resident of Clio. “They were very expensive and made it difficult for me to cover expenses such as groceries, housing, and other needs. I’m delighted Senator Stabenow is introducing this legislation to make prescription drugs cheaper. It will help people like me in Michigan.”
“As a doctor who has treated patients across Genesee County, I know the high cost of prescription drugs is a huge problem,” said Dr. Huda Elhwairis, who practices at Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint. “We need to make sure patients can actually afford the life-saving medication they need. I want to thank Senator Stabenow for her legislation that will help lower the cost for seniors and families.”
“Michigan pharmacists are active members of the community and are committed to providing quality care to our patients and their families,” said Larry Wagenknecht, CEO of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. “We support Senator Stabenow's Know the Lowest Price Act, because our pharmacists should never be prohibited from helping patients pay less to get the prescriptions they need.”
“The Know the Lowest Price Act is one important step that everyone can agree on to help address the issue of rising prescription drug prices,” said Stacey Pearl, Pharm. D, Director, Sparrow Pharmacy Plus. “Sparrow is absolutely committed to helping the region and patients receive the best quality care and that includes making sure they get the medicine they need at the most affordable price.”
“I rely on prescription medication to stabilize my diabetes and prevent heart attacks,” said Linda Addis, a 69-year-old senior living in Lansing. “Last year, the price of just one of my medications tripled from $683 to $2,236 with zero warning. Another, my inhaler for asthma, went from $367 to $1,182. If I took all medications as prescribed, I would have reached the coverage gap for Medicare Part D at the end of February. I live on a fixed income of $900 in Social Security and $700 in pensions. I desperately need this medication and don’t know what else to do but to only take the expensive medications sparingly.”
"Access to psychotropic, or mental health, medications is critical for all of those in our country with mental health needs,” said Robert Sheehan, CEO Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. “For many people, recovery and the maintenance of stable healthy relationships, meaningful employment, and academic success are contingent upon access to highly affective psychotropic medications. Access to these psychotropic medications is dependent on ensuring that the costs of these medications remain reasonable and that persons using these medications have the information needed to make decisions to keep these costs reasonable. We appreciate Senator Stabenow's longstanding leadership on these issues and her efforts to address the rising costs of prescription drugs.”
“Senior Neighbors is excited to host Senator Stabenow as she announces important legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs,” said Robert Barnes, President of Senior Neighbors. “Our seniors depend on access to affordable medication and we welcome Senator Stabenow's proposals to bring down costs."
“As a doctor who has treated patients across West Michigan, I know the high cost of prescription drugs is a huge problem,” said Dr. Thomas Platt, Cherry Health’s Chief Medical Officer and provider at Cherry Health’s Heart of the City Adult Medicine and Durham Clinic. “We need to make sure patients can actually afford the life-saving medication they need. I want to thank Senator Stabenow for her legislation that will help lower the cost for seniors and families.”
“I take four medications to treat my asthma and back issues,” said Ben Abraham, a 64-year-old resident of Grand Rapids. “Because I live on a fixed income, it is very hard for me to pay for my medications and also cover my other needs. I’m glad Senator Stabenow is taking action to lower prescription drug costs for me and other people in Michigan.”
“As pharmacists, we interact with patients and their families directly and want to do everything we can to make sure they get high quality, cost-effective care,” said Rebecca Maynard, PharmD, a Michigan pharmacist. “I appreciate that Senator Stabenow is working with pharmacists, patients, and providers to come up with a solution to the problem of astronomically high prescription drug costs.”
“Ishpeming Senior Center is excited to host Senator Stabenow as she announces important legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs,” said Elyse Bertucci, Director of the Ishpeming Senior Center. “Our seniors depend on access to affordable medication and we welcome Senator Stabenow's proposals to bring down costs."
“Michigan pharmacists are active members of our communities and are committed to providing quality care to our patients and their families,” said Tyler Jenema, PharmD and a Michigan pharmacist. “We support Senator Stabenow's Know the Lowest Price Act, because we should never be prohibited from helping our patients pay less to get the prescriptions they need.”
“As the largest rural health care provider in the state, Munson Healthcare is concerned about the rising costs of pharmaceuticals and the impact these costs have on the patients we serve. Annually, prescription drug costs account for approximately 9 percent of Munson Healthcare’s operating expenses, with unanticipated price changes directly impacting the cost of care,” said Edwin A. Ness, president and CEO of Munson Healthcare. “We do our best to provide assistance to our patients to offset these costs, including participating in the successful 340B drug discount program, which provides more than $10 million in annual savings that are used to offset the cost of drugs as well as offer services not otherwise available in our region. Therefore, we support and thank Senator Stabenow for her efforts to address prescription drug costs at the national level and believe that if passed into law, this legislation would be good for the patients we serve.”
"As a member of the Northern Michigan Diabetes Initiative, which seeks to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and improve the care people with diabetes receive, I have seen firsthand the impact that high drug costs have on patients with diabetes in our region. We know that for certain types of diabetes, including Type 2, pharmacologic interventions are sometimes necessary to treat patients,” said James Whelan, M.D., Munson Healthcare medical director of Population Health. "However rising drug costs, decreasing insurance coverage, and an aging population all combine to create challenges in treating diabetes in our region. Therefore, we see the need to advocate for affordable prescription drug prices as part of our overall strategy of improving health outcomes for diabetes patients in northern Michigan and believe that Senator Stabenow’s legislation will help with this effort."
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