Rep. Soto: We Need to Fix the Drug Pricing System in the US

April 25, 2019
In The News

HAINES CITY, Fla. — A soon-to-be released Congressional report shows just how much more Americans are paying for crucial lifesaving prescription drugs compared to those buying the same drugs in other countries.

  • Report: Uninsured Americans pay up to 23 times more for insulin than other countries
  • More than 30 million Americans have diabetes

 

Congress has been eyeing reforms and oversight measures of American pharmaceutical companies.

“Society has gotten to the point where a company profit margin is valued more than someone’s basic human rights — the right to live, and the right to have affordable access to medication,” said Jeff Dunlop of Polk County.

Dunlop has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 35 years. His 11-year-old son was just diagnosed with the same disease six months ago, which runs in Dunlop’s family history.

“With insulin, I have to have insulin or I die, it’s not an option,” Dunlop said.

Even with insurance, Dunlop estimates a vial of insulin can still cost him upwards of $250, compared to time ago when a vial would cost approximately $21 in the year 1996.

“Not only do I have to worry about managing my illness that I have, I also have to worry about whether in the future, I’ll be able to afford the insulin to maintain myself,” Dunlop said.

Dunlop estimates last year he paid more than $7,000 out of pocket for his full diabetes care.

The report being published by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform says more than 30 million people in the United States, including more than one in four seniors, have diabetes.

“The prices of diabetes medications – and insulin in particular – are far higher in the United States than they are overseas, in part because certain federal programs lack the authority to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers,” the report states.

That is a gap that Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, says he and others in Washington, D.C. are working to fix.

“In the Energy and Commerce Committee, we passed several bills to reduce the price of prescription drugs, first tackling some of the problems with generics, making sure they roll out as soon as possible, making sure that the drug information is shared, making sure pricing is up to date. We’ll also look at arbitration and other ways, so Medicare can negotiate drug prices like Medicaid,” Soto said.

The study also found that Americans without health insurance pay far more than others for the same drugs.

“This report finds that uninsured diabetes patients in the district who purchase Novolog Flexpen – a popular brand of insulin – pay 23 times more than they would in Australia, 15 times more than they would in the United Kingdom, and 13 times more than they would in Canada,” the study says.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been pushing support to allow Floridians to import lower cost prescription drugs from places like Canada, although even with Legislative approval, the federal government would still have to allow it.

“I’m certainly not opposed to it, but it’s a sad day if we are the country that produces these drugs, and we have to import them from Canada to make them more affordable,” Soto said. “That to me says we need to fix the drug pricing system in this country. That is the real problem.”

Soto is revealing the full Congressional report during a Thursday town hall focused on prescription drug costs, currently underway in Haines City.

 

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