Over 70% of Coloradans Favor a State Board to Lower Drug Costs
DENVER – Today the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, along with Governor Jared Polis, affected consumers, providers, small businesses and bill sponsors Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis and Julie Gonzales and Representatives Yadira Caraveo and Chris Kennedy, announced the introduction of legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help lower the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.
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.
“Prescription drugs cost too much and Coloradans are sick and tired of being ripped off. This bill is an important step toward our goal of saving people money on health care,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I want to thank the bill sponsors for their efforts to ensure that hardworking Coloradans can get the medicine they need for themselves and their families without worrying about astronomical costs.”
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. Despite that, the proposal faces strong opposition from the powerful PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) lobby.
“Coloradans are paying 65 to 85 percent more than people in other countries for the same drugs,” said Adam Fox, deputy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “We know pharmaceutical companies still make a profit in those countries or they wouldn’t be selling their drugs in those markets. We can lower the costs of the most unaffordable drugs with a Prescription Drug Affordability Board and we can save Coloradans money. We hope legislators will listen to the voices of Colorado families and to Colorado voters — and not to the scare tactics of the powerful PhRMA lobby.”
“To manage my bleeding disorders, I rely on a medication called Humate-P. Each vial of Humate-P costs $10,000 — and I require 4 vials of this drug every time I get an infusion. And this shocking price is for just one of the many drugs I need,” said Kris Garcia. “The toll of having a medical condition like this is taxing enough; the financial burden only makes such a situation more stressful. I shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of financial ruin to my family just because of drug costs.”
“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.”
The bill has been introduced in the Colorado Senate and awaits its first committee hearing in the coming weeks.
The zoom recording of the press conference held today can be accessed here: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/
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).