Bipartisan effort to cap the cost of new prescription drugs in Florida

Floridians are dying because they can not afford the drugs that keep them alive.

Monica Ramos, a Lee County resident, has Type 1 diabetes. It is a disease that costs many people a lot of money due to the rising cost of insulin.

“One thousand dollars for a life-saving drug is ridiculous,” Ramos said. “Not to be able to afford insulin: it’s wrong.”

Sen. Rick Scott agrees. He grew up in a family without health care, which makes the issue of high priced, medicine a personal issue to him.

One reason Scott and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, are working together is to bring costs down with the “We Protect American Investment in Drugs Act.”

“You can have great, quality healthcare,” said Scott, a Republican. “But if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t do anything for you.”

If approved, the measure would not affect the prices of drugs already on the market. We reached out to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America but have not heard a response as of publication.

The act would also stop drug companies from charging you unreasonable prices for new drugs developed using taxpayer money. That includes grants from the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That is something AARP supports because the bill makes sure taxpayers get a fair price, according to its director of health services research, Leigh Purvis.

Purvis told WINK News anything that can save its members money is a good idea.

“Prescription drug prices routinely increase faster than inflation,” Purvis said.

Meaning, the average annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased by nearly 60% between 2012 and 2017, while the annual income for Floridians increased by less than 13%.

“They’re too high,” Scott said. “They’re way too high.”

It is a problem Scott hopes to fix. Meanwhile, Ramos works to help other patients find affordable medicine.

“As human beings,” Ramos said, “I think we have the right to a healthy life.”

  • A spokesperson for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) sent us a statement in response to the Florida lawmakers’ proposal:

“This bill is a solution in search of a problem and shows a fundamental lack of understanding about how biopharmaceutical innovation works.

“While government research plays a role in advancing medical science, biopharmaceutical companies are largely responsible for developing new medicines that help patients lead healthier lives. For example, one study found that the private sector was responsible for 58% of discovery milestones, 73% of development milestones and 81% of manufacturing milestones.

“Further, in 2017 alone, the biopharmaceutical industry’s investment in research and development reached an estimated $97 billion, which almost tripled the National Institutes of Health (NIH) total budget of $32.6 billion the same year – only part of which went to research related to drug development.

“The bill would also undermine the U.S. technology transfer system set up by the Bayh-Dole Act by setting up price controls that would disincentivize America’s biopharmaceutical industry from taking a license to any federally-sponsored research discoveries. Since the passage of Bayh-Dole, commercialization of federally-funded research has increased dramatically much to the benefit of patients. In 2016 alone, more than 1,000 start-up companies were formed across numerous industries and nearly 800 commercial products stemming from university research were introduced into the market.

“It’s also worth noting that this bill would establish a national board of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to make arbitrary pricing and access determinations for new medicines. This kind of price control regime would – as we’ve seen in socialized medicine regimes in other countries – result not just in lower R&D investments critical to addressing unmet patient needs but also in reduced and delayed access to new medical advances.

“At its core, this bill would jeopardize patient access to new medicines and erode future research and development investments needed to generate new treatments and cures for patients. PhRMA remains committed to working with Senators on both sides of the aisle on proactive solutions without chilling innovation that benefits patients.”

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Voice your opinion on this issue! Contact your representatives here:

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Rick Scott

Rep. Francis Rooney

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart

Rep. Greg Steube

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:Michael Mora
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