Here in Maine, as in many other parts of the country, too many patients and their families are struggling to afford their prescription medications.

A recent poll from Gallup found a staggering 58 million Americans, representing nearly 23 percent of the national population, said they have been unable to afford the medication they were prescribed in the last twelve months. Even worse, that number was higher than Gallup found in January, indicating the crisis of affordability is growing.

Yet, even as millions of Americans struggle under the burden of out-of-control drug prices, Big Pharma continues to hike prices. Just this year alone drug companies have raised prices on at least 3,500 drugs and last year there were 96 price increases for every price reduction on prescription medications.

It’s no wonder a September survey found Big Pharma ranks lower in the eyes of American consumers than any other industry. Almost 60 percent of Americans view Big Pharma negatively, while less than half that number view the industry in a positive light.

During my time in the Maine Legislature, my colleagues and I worked on a number of bipartisan measures to improve health care affordability and access. I have seen firsthand how they have had a lasting and positive impact on our communities.

The Legislature was able to put partisan differences aside and work towards common goals that we all knew were beneficial for the constituents we served.

Our elected leaders in Washington must do the same thing to deliver prescription drug pricing relief for American patients.

Sen. Susan Collins has been a champion in this regard. Collins has introduced legislation to increase transparency and lent her full support to key reform packages like The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019.

This legislation, which passed out of the Senate Committee on Finance in July, would support competition and increased transparency, keep the growth of prescription drug prices in line with inflation and provide out-of-pocket relief for seniors who rely on Medicare Part D for their prescription drug coverage. The plan’s reform of Part D would also shift significant liability for catastrophic level costs to drug makers. By requiring drug companies to have more of a stake in the game, they would have less incentive to unreasonably hike prices.

These measures would result in significant savings. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the solutions outlined in this bill would save taxpayers and patients more than $130 billion.

Also, these measures  have significant bipartisan support. Not only was this package advanced with votes from both sides of the aisle out of committee, but these measures are also included in a House package called H.R. 3.

I commend Sen. Collins for her dedicated leadership on this issue. We need Sen. Angus King and our representatives in the House, like Congressman Jared Golden, to also keep fighting to get these reforms passed into law before year end.

Mainers grappling with out-of-control drug prices cannot wait another year for relief.

 

Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea represented the District 88 in the Maine House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.