SB 175 will lower costs of the most unaffordable drugs
DENVER – Last night, legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to lower the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs was approved by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a non-partisan, membership-based, policy-advocacy group, has been the lead organization advocating for Senate Bill 175 and they praised the vote.
The establishment of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) would bring together a panel of experts to research, review, and establish more affordable costs for the most expensive prescription drugs and to investigate when drug companies sharply increase the price of a drug. The members would be independent and could not accept money or gifts from the health care industry or in any way have a conflict of interest.
“Legislators listened to the voices of Colorado families, not to the scare tactics of the well-funded and powerful PhRMA lobby,” said Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Coloradans are paying 65 to 85 percent more than people in other countries for the same drugs. We know pharmaceutical companies still make a profit in those countries or they wouldn’t be selling their drugs there. The bottom line is that we can lower the costs of the most unaffordable drugs with a Prescription Drug Affordability Board and we can save Coloradans money.”
A recent bi-partisan poll shows overwhelming support for a PDAB across Colorado. When asked about the concept of a “state board of appointed healthcare experts who would analyze and act to lower the cost of certain prescription drugs,” 77 percent expressed support. Even after hearing arguments against a PDAB, over 70 percent of Coloradans remained in favor.
“To keep my wife alive, we rely on one drug and no generic substitute will work. She must take Xarelto for her serious blood-clotting disorder,” said Matthew James, who lost his job and his insurance due to the COVID economy. Without insurance, the cost of his wife’s life-saving medication nearly doubled to $450 a month. “I have a new job but still no insurance so we have to decide what groceries or bills we can pay.”
“As a small business owner, I’m constantly facing a balancing act between protecting the health and safety of the families I serve and my own, while sustaining my business,” said Stacy Buzbee, a cancer survivor who operates a child care facility. “With the cost of running a business and budgeting the health needs of my own children, I have put my own health at a greater risk, substituting prescription drugs with over-the-counter medicine. I should not be forced to choose between the health of myself and my family and my financial stability.”
“My biologic medication allows me to function in my daily life, do my job, and be active with my three small children,” said Mariah Leach. “The downside is that these medications are extremely expensive. I was recently charged a copay of $2,206 for two syringes, which is only one month of my medication. It’s my hope that a Prescription Drug Affordability Board would help make these life-changing prescriptions accessible to all Coloradans who may need them.”
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that represents 40+ Colorado health organizations with more than 500,000 health care consumers advocating for equitable access to high-quality, affordable health care. In 2018, CCHI received the “Get Wise” Consumer Protection award from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).