Spanberger Convenes Prescription Drug Roundtable Discussion in Henrico, Hears from Patients & Providers about Skyrocketing Costs
Last Month, the Congresswoman’s Bipartisan Bill to Increase Transparency within the Prescription Drug Marketplace Passed Out of a Key U.S. House Committee
Washington, August 6, 2019
HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday met with Central Virginia families, patients, providers, and pharmacists to learn more about the challenges caused by overpriced prescription drugs in Henrico County and to discuss potential legislative solutions to the drug affordability crisis.
During a roundtable discussion in Henrico, Spanberger heard directly from patients impacted by increasingly expensive prescription drugs—and she stressed the urgent need for Congress to take actions that can help lower these costs, particularly as the U.S. House begins to see a growing bipartisan consensus surrounding proposed legislation to combat high costs. Specifically, she underscored the importance of increasing transparency among pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)— the third-party intermediaries between drug manufacturers, health insurers, and pharmacies. Earlier this year, Spanberger introduced and led a bipartisan bill to hold PBMs accountable. In April, this legislation passed unanimously out of the House Ways and Means Committee, and it passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month.
“The ongoing prescription drug affordability crisis has a detrimental impact on children, families, and the elderly in our district. Particularly for those who are uninsured, get by on fixed incomes, or struggle with a chronic condition like diabetes, high drug prices can be downright extortionary,” said Spanberger. “Central Virginia families should never have to worry about bankruptcy, simply because pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on essential, lifesaving medication. Yesterday, I heard firsthand from patients and providers about the far-reaching health and financial impacts of overpriced prescription drugs. Following our conversations, it’s even more apparent that Congress must take concrete, bipartisan actions to lower the economic burdens imposed on patients and taxpayers by pharmaceutical companies. That process begins by fighting for greater transparency, increased competition, and widespread affordability within our prescription drug market—and I’ll keep working to secure access to affordable and reliable healthcare coverage and prescription drugs for all Central Virginians and their loved ones.”
Yesterday, Spanberger also unveiled a recent report commissioned by her office highlighting the enormous costs of diabetes medication in Virginia’s Seventh District. The report estimates that there are approximately 23,000 Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes in the district—and according to the report, the 50 most popular brands of diabetes medications used by these beneficiaries are available at much lower prices in other countries. For instance, Central Virginia diabetes patients without insurance pay $634 for Novolog Flexpen—a popular brand of insulin—compared to $47 in Canada or $28 in Australia.
Earlier this year, Spanberger was selected to serve as Co-Chair of a bipartisan, bicameral prescription drug task force. In June, she called on her colleagues in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to work together to advance bipartisan legislation to combat the ongoing prescription drug affordability crisis in Central Virginia. During a press conference alongside members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Spanberger announced her support for new principles to address rising prescription drug prices. Click here to watch a video of her remarks.
Last week, Spanberger announced the overarching theme for her August work period—“Securing the Future.” As part of this initiative, she is listening to the specific needs of Central Virginia families, businesses, and seniors—and will return to Congress in September with additional ideas on how best to secure a stronger future for all Seventh District residents. This initiative includes focusing on how to secure access to affordable and reliable healthcare coverage and prescription drugs.
Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has been fighting to address the prescription drug affordability crisis and to increase transparency in drug pricing. Last month, she joined a majority of the U.S. House in passing a bipartisan bill she cosponsored that would make it easier for Central Virginians to access lower-cost prescription drugs. The bill would prohibit pharmaceutical companies from participating in certain anti-competitive practices that block cheaper generic drugs from entering that market.
And in January, she helped introduce the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, which would authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical providers within Medicare Part D to help lower costs.
Spanberger is also focused on addressing additional factors that impact the prices of prescription drugs. Earlier this year, Spanberger helped introduce and pass landmark campaign finance and ethics reform legislation that would strengthen transparency in the U.S. political system and limit the influence of special interests—including pharmaceutical companies. During a press conference prior to the passage of the legislation, she shared the story of Central Virginians concerned about rising prescription drug prices—and she stressed why increased transparency would restore faith in the democratic process and the ability of Members of Congress to affect change on these issues. Click here to watch the full press conference.