Spanberger Amplifies Stories of Central Virginians in 2020 Prescription Drug Survey

Since Launching the Survey Last Month, the Congresswoman’s Office Has Received More than 2,500 Survey Responses

Tonight, Spanberger Will Host a Prescription Drug-Focused Town Hall in Goochland County alongside AARP Virginia & the Virginia Pharmacists Association

HENRICO, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today announced the initial results of her 2020 Prescription Drug Survey, a fact-gathering survey that asked Central Virginians to share their stories about how the growing prescription drug affordability crisis is impacting their health and financial security.

Spanberger launched the survey last month, and to date, her office has received more than 2,500 survey responses from Central Virginia families and seniors about the effects of rising prescription drug prices.   

In addition to the stories heard at public events like her Community Prescription Drug Forum in 2019, these survey responses have helped guide Spanberger’s work in the U.S. House to lower costs, increase competition among drug companies, and demand transparency across the pharmaceutical industry.

“Prescription drug costs are soaring in Central Virginia and across the country, and this alarming trend creates tremendous uncertainty for seniors and families across the Seventh District. For those with health conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, the rising cost of lifesaving medications is straining budgets, fueling undue stress, and forcing them to make difficult decisions,” said Spanberger. “The thousands of stories already submitted through my office’s Prescription Drug Survey are powerful, heartbreaking, and all too common. As I read each story, I’m reminded that the impacts of the prescription drug affordability crisis are more than statistics – they’re the daily reality for thousands of our neighbors. That’s why I’ll continue fighting in the House to advance bipartisan and effective reforms that can lead to lower prices.”

Here are a few examples of the 2020 Prescription Drug Survey responses submitted to Spanberger’s office:

Jeffrey, Chesterfield:

“I am a family physician in Chesterfield County. I care for a great many patients with diabetes. It is extremely frustrating that the medications that are recommended by the American Diabetes Association (for use after metformin) are the ones patients are least like to be able to afford. While there are cheaper, generic alternatives, these medicines are no longer favored because of dangerous side effects. And don’t get me started on insulin! How is it possible that we don’t have affordable insulin available to patients who need it? Diabetes is an epidemic in Virginia (and elsewhere), and pharmaceutical companies are certainly capitalizing on it.”

Heather, Henrico:

“Both of my girls have type 1 diabetes. At this time, we still have them on my husband’s insurance policy that he gets through his employer. Our oldest turns 26 this year and we are terrified of her taking on this huge financial burden for her insulin and diabetic supplies. She and her sister will never be afforded the luxury of not needing insurance to keep them alive. I am so thankful you are working to help our daughters with their prescription costs. It will literally save their lives.”

Thomas, Culpeper:

“There are three medications that I have had to forego using because of the cost. One company bought up the rights from its competitors, and the price went from $1.25 per unit to $12.50, making a months’ supply nearly $400.00 – and now my insurance won’t pay for it. The same thing happened with my Epi-Pens which went from $7.50 per unit to over $200.00 per unit. This is happening more and more each day. Because Medicare cannot negotiate prices, there seems no hope of stopping Big Pharma except by changing the Medicare part D rules.”

Emily, Goochland:

“I’m 24 and chronically ill; I’m fortunate to be on my parents’ health insurance plan. However, I worry about my future and am concerned that I may struggle upon turning 26 due to the high cost of medications, especially since working a traditional full-time job isn’t an option for me at this moment in time. I fight to make a difference in the world, and I desperately want to continue to work, have fulfilling relationships, and improve the world around me: but I cannot do this without access to vital medications. Please keep fighting to lower the cost of prescription drugs and for access to quality healthcare for all Americans.”

Karen, Henrico:

“My son has several chronic health issues and is now an adult that I can no longer keep on my health insurance. He was hospitalized seven times this past year at MCV and is on several medications including insulin, needles, test strips and lancets. Had the State of Virginia not expanded Medicaid this year, I don’t know what we would have done, as being a single parent the cost of his medications would have been more than my take home pay.”

On Monday, February 24, Spanberger will host a prescription drug-focused town hall in Goochland County. Central Virginians are still encouraged to submit their personal stories and feedback to the survey – and they can choose whether to allow their stories to be public or remain confidential. Click here for the survey link.

BACKGROUND

Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has made lowering drug costs for Central Virginians a top priority. In October 2019, the U.S. House voted 403 to 0 to pass Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation to help tackle the prescription drug affordability crisis, increase drug pricing transparency, and hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable. And in December 2019, Spanberger helped pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would help lower prices for Central Virginia seniors and families by giving Medicare Part D the power to negotiate directly with drug companies.

Over the past decade, rising drug costs have created tremendous financial certainty for seniors and families in Central Virginia and across the country. Between 2012 and 2017, the average annual cost of prescription drug treatments in Virginia increased by nearly 60 percent, while the annual income for Virginians only increased by 8.5 percent.

Spanberger’s Goochland prescription drug town hall builds on her work in the U.S. House to address the prescription drug affordability crisis, spur competition in the prescription drug industry, and increase transparency in drug pricing, including:

Stopping practices that block generic alternatives from entering the consumer market. In October 2019, Spanberger introduced the bipartisan Biologic Patent Transparency Act, which would take a first step in stopping the practice of “patent gaming” and would seek to level the playing fields for biosimilar drugs.

Giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. In January 2019, 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.

Hearing directly from Central Virginians about their prescription drug-related challenges. During her two-day healthcare tour in November 2019, Spanberger held a prescription drug forum in Henrico County to hear the stories and concerns of Central Virginians related to high prescription drug costs. And in August 2019, she held a prescription drug roundtable with local families, providers, and pharmacists to focus on the economic and healthcare issues cause by overprices prescription drugs. During the discussion, she heard concerns from patients and pharmacists about the influence of PBMS on the prescription drug marketplace.

Addressing additional factors that impact the prices of prescription drugs. Last 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 effect change on these issues. Click here to watch the full press conference.

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