HENRICO, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday hosted a prescription drug-focused, public town hall in Goochland County. As part of the open event, Central Virginia patients, pharmacists, and physicians shared their stories about how rising healthcare and prescription drug costs are directly impacting them.
At her Goochland town hall, Spanberger was joined by AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau and Virginia Pharmacists Association Executive Director Christina Barrille to answer questions about the factors contributing to high drug costs in Central Virginia and ongoing efforts at both the federal and state levels to lower prescription drug prices. The Congresswoman also discussed her recent work in the U.S. House to increase competition within the pharmaceutical industry, including helping to pass legislation—the Lower Drug Costs Now Act—that would give Medicare Part D the power to negotiate drug prices. Additionally, Spanberger discussed her bipartisan legislation passed in the U.S. House last year that would demand greater transparency from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
“Skyrocketing prescription drug costs are jeopardizing the health and financial security of Central Virginia seniors and families—and the personal stories of my constituents are truly heartbreaking. Over the last few years, I’ve heard from pharmacists who are seeing patients walking away without their medication, families who are painstakingly rationing insulin, and seniors who are even considering making the long trek to Canada to obtain cheaper medicine,” said Spanberger. “To tackle the prescription drug affordability crisis, we need to understand how high costs are directly impacting the people in our communities and in our neighborhoods—and we need to redouble our resolve to pass meaningful legislation that can lower prices and stimulate competition across the industry. This effort must include the U.S. Senate taking a vote on the commonsense, bipartisan Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which the House passed in December. I’d like to thank the many Goochland residents who joined us at our prescription drug town hall last night, and I’ll keep fighting in the House to bring additional peace of mind and financial stability to our neighbors across Central Virginia.”
“Too many Virginians—of all ages—have a hard time keeping up with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs,” said Jim Dau, State Director, AARP Virginia. “There is an opportunity and an urgency for Congress to make prescription drugs more affordable, and I thank Representative Spanberger for her leadership.”
Yesterday, Spanberger also 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. After launching the survey last month, 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 Virginia’s Seventh District, more than 96,000 people are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, and nearly 614,000 individuals are enrolled in private health insurance. The Lower Drug Costs Now Act would deliver tangible cost-savings for these Central Virginia seniors, families, and those with chronic conditions. For example, the legislation could decrease arthritis medication prices in Virginia from $40,000 to $10,000 per year.
Additionally, Virginians with diabetes would see dramatic price decreases. If enacted, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act would lower the total cost of the insulin medication NovoLOG Flexpen by an estimated 76 percent—from $19,800 to $4,800 per year. Click here to read more about the Virginia-specific benefits of the Lower Drug Costs Now Act.
Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has made lowering drug costs for Central Virginians one of her top priorities. 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 an open 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.