Spanberger Hosts Virtual Prescription Drug Cost Discussion with Central Virginia Patients, Providers, & Pharmacists

Aug 27, 2020
Healthcare
Press

Last Month, the Congresswoman Relaunched her 2020 Prescription Drug Survey to Hear the Personal Stories of Constituents Impacted by High Drug Prices During the Pandemic

**Click Here for a Recording of the Event**

HENRICO, V.A. —U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with Central Virginia patients, pharmacists, and providers to discuss the impact of high prescription drug costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent Gallup poll showed that nearly nine in 10 U.S. adults are concerned about rising drug costs amid the pandemic. During yesterday’s discussion, Spanberger met several Central Virginia constituents to learn more about challenges caused by overpriced prescription drugs and to discuss potential legislative solutions to the drug affordability crisis.

Additionally, Spanberger heard from a local, independent pharmacist about how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) contribute to high prescription drug costs for Central Virginia patients and their families. Earlier this year, the U.S. House passed Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation to increase transparency in prescription drug negotiations, bring accountability to the world of PBMs, and lower drug costs for patients.

“No one should be forced to endure financial hardships, ration their medication, skip lifesaving doses of drugs, or make the long trek to Canada for cheaper drugs — just because of the decisions made by pharmaceutical companies. Throughout our district, I’ve heard directly from our neighbors about how sky-high drug prices affect their financial decisions each day — and the pandemic has only heightened these struggles,” said Spanberger. “For seniors and families, the ability to afford prescription medication can determine their ability to put food on the table, pay the bills, and keep a roof over their heads. During yesterday’s discussion, we heard from several Central Virginians who have experienced these stressors firsthand. I’d also like to thank the experts who joined our conversation to share the stories they’ve heard from their neighbors at our local pharmacies. Especially during this challenging moment of health and financial uncertainty, we must take further actions to bring greater accountability and competition to the pharmaceutical industry. The status quo — especially in the middle of a pandemic — is jeopardizing the financial stability of our neighbors across Central Virginia.”

Today’s roundtable builds on Spanberger’s efforts to hear directly from Central Virginians about their prescription drug-related challenges. During her two-day healthcare tour in November 2019, Spanberger held an open forum in Henrico County to hear the stories and concerns of Central Virginians related to high prescription drug costs. Spanberger held a similar forum in Goochland County in February 2020. 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.

Last month, Spanberger relaunched her 2020 Prescription Drug Survey to gather feedback from her constituents regarding the cost of prescription drugs during the COVID-19 crisis. After the initial launch of the survey in January 2020, her office received more than 2,500 survey responses from Central Virginia families and seniors about the effects of rising prescription drug prices.

BACKGROUND

Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has made lowering drug costs for Central Virginians one of her top priorities. Spanberger’s prescription drug town forum 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:

  • Giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices: Last year, Spanberger cosponsored and voted to pass legislation— the Lower Drug Costs Now Act — that would increase competition by giving Medicare Part D the power to negotiate drug prices.
  • 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.
  • Increasing access to lowercost prescription drugs. Spanberger helped pass the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, which prohibits pharmaceutical companies from participating in certain anti-competitive practices that block cheaper generic drugs from entering that market. Specifically, the CREATES Act increases competitive options for prescription drugs by cracking down on pharmaceutical companies’ ability to delay access to generic versions of expensive brand-name drugs. The Spanberger-supported legislation was signed into law by President Trump.

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