AP NEWS

Ohio mom implores Congress to reduce prescription drug prices

January 30, 2019

Ohio mom implores Congress to reduce prescription drug prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Antroinette Worsham’s oldest daughter, Antavia, died of diabetes complications after she turned 21 and was no longer eligible for an Ohio Department of Health program that subsidized the cost of the insulin she needed to survive, which cost $333 per month.

Wearing a red “Patients over Profit$” T-shirt, the Cincinnati mom on Tuesday implored the House Oversight and Reform Committee to crack down on pharmaceutical price gouging before the same thing happens to her 18-year-old daughter, Antanique, who also has diabetes. She fears that her second daughter won’t be able to afford her insulin on top of the high cost of her college tuition, room and board.

“We want to save more lives,” Worsham told a committee hearing on soaring prescription drug prices. ”It can be done. And you are the people to make it happen. I am just the voice for people.”

According to an analysis by AARP, approximately 94 percent of widely used brand-name drugs more than doubled in price between 2005 and 2017. The organization said prescription drug costs rose an average of 8.4 percent in 2017—four times the rate of inflation. The American Diabetes Association says the average cost of insulin – which more than 7 million require to stay alive – has nearly tripled since 2002.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, has asked 12 major drug makers to give his committee information on their price increases, research investments and strategies to preserve market share and pricing power. He said he hopes his investigation will determine why drug companies are increasing prices so dramatically, how they’re using the proceeds, and how to reduce prices.

“I am going to paint Ms. Worsham’s face in the DNA of every cell of my brain to try to make sure that her other daughter who is facing the same thing does not die,” Cummings said.

Holmes County GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs said he wanted to make sure any changes don’t overregulate or reduce incentives for drug development.

The committee’s top Republican, Champaign County Rep. Jim Jordan, said he was concerned that Cummings launched the investigation without consulting him and that it was done “to score political points” instead of get answers. He described “Democrats’ last idea for fixing health care, Obamacare,” as a “disaster we will be repairing for the foreseeable future.”

Nonetheless, he said prescription drug prices are an important issue, and he expressed hope work would proceed on a bipartisan basis.

“We will never succeed in delivering reforms to the American people if all possible solutions are not on the table,” said Jordan.

Medical experts at the House hearing said drug companies keep drug prices high by keeping generic competitors out of the market and trying to extend their patents on medications by making slight tweaks to their composition.

They said insulin prices might be brought down if the government or nonprofit drug companies could produce old formulations of the drug that works for many patients.

“This is such a widespread problem,” said Harvard Medical School Professor Aaron S. Kesselheim.

The high price of insulin and other drugs was also the focus of a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday. Its chairman, Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, vowed to “get to the bottom of the insulin price problem,” and said he’s heard from seniors who have seen their prescription drug costs increase every month “for no apparent reason.”

“We need to continue to have a strong research engine to develop new treatments, but we must also have a discussion about the affordability of these drugs,” said Grassley.

.

AP RADIO
Update hourly