Little Rock, Ark. (News release) – Today community leaders gathered outside the Little Rock offices of Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton to urge them, President Trump and Congress to pass legislation to lower drug prices, regulate big pharmaceutical companies and lower drug prices. This event is one of several events across the country to kick off a national campaign to make needed medications affordable to all Americans. The Little Rock event was sponsored by Arkansas Community Organizations and Indivisible Little Rock and Central Arkansas.
Lavetta Alexander was one of the speakers at today’s event. In 2015 she had a kidney transplant. The medication she needed after her surgery cost over $1,900 per month. She had to use funds from her 401K to pay for the medicine she needed after transplant surgery. Besides paying for the prescription, she had medical bills she could not pay and at the end of a tax bill for withdrawing money from her 401k. She worked for UPS, but lost her job dues to her illness. She is now on disability.
Karen Sullard, a retired school principal, spoke about the difficulties she has had getting the right insulin prescription to control her diabetes.
After the press conference community members delivered large pill bottles to the offices of senators Boozman and Cotton and spoke with staff at each office.
“It’s time to stand up to corporate greed and price-gouging and insist that lawmakers take serious action to lower drug prices now,” said Donna Massey, president of Arkansas Community Organizations.
“Time and time again, we’ve heard President Trump’s promises to tackle sky-rocketing drug prices, but policies from his administration are moving in the opposite direction. Trump’s new NAFTA deal could raise drug prices here and handcuff Congress from enacting new policies needed to lower prices,” added Ms. Massey.
No matter where people live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets–the prescription drug cost crisis touches nearly everyone. In 2018, nearly 28 million Americans watched the costs of their medications rise, while pharmaceutical companies benefited from huge tax breaks and pulled in record profits.
Every day in the United States, millions of people go without prescription medicines they need because they can’t afford the high prices set by the pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies maximize profits by using patents and monopolies to set and keep prices high, putting even basic medicines like insulin out of reach for patients who need them.
People in the United States pay more for prescription medicine than in any other developed country because, unlike nearly every other country, prescription drug corporations are allowed to set their own prices.
As a result, the prescription drug industry is raking in massive profits while sick people go without medicine.
- Nearly three-in-ten people in the United States report not taking medicine as prescribed because of the cost, including by not filling a prescription, taking an inappropriate alternative treatment, cutting pills in half or skipping doses.
- Research shows that a quarter of people with diabetes lower or skip doses because they cannot afford the insulin that keeps them alive.
- The cost of the four most popular types of insulin has tripled over the past decade while Eli Lily — the nation’s largest insulin producer– continued to reap billions of dollars in revenue. In 2018 alone, Eli Lilly brought in $9 billion in revenue from their diabetes medication while paying $0 in federal income taxes under the Trump tax law.
- Drug companies spent $172 million on lobbying in 2018–more than any other industry–to protect their monopolies and protect their power to dictate prices because Big Pharma will do anything to avoid changing a system that they have rigged to swell their profits, even if that same system kills patients.
- Prescription drug companies like to justify their soaring prices with claims that investment in new, life-saving medicines costs money. But that claim is false. Big Pharma companies spend far more on marketing than they do on research and development.
- The reality is that we, the taxpayers, foot a huge part of the bill for research and development of drugs, only to find that once these drugs hit the market, they are too expensive to afford.
- Taxpayer-funded research through National Institutes of Health (NIH) contributed to every one of the 210 drugs approved between 2010 and 2016. The U.S. federal government is the world’s largest funder of biomedical research. But life-saving medicine can’t help Americans if they can’t afford to buy it.