Letter: Rising drug prices demand bold action, leadership
While the nation is now appropriately focused on the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot forget about other health care priorities that continue to impact Coloradans. As an advocate for the nearly 1 million Americans living with multiple sclerosis, I know the hardships many people face affording their prescriptions.
MS is a chronic, unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. Unfortunately, many Coloradans with MS and others with serious medical conditions are struggling to afford the prescription medications they need.
For people with MS, access to pharmaceutical treatments can mean the difference between a life of steadily worsening disability or hope for effectively managing the disease. We need to urge our state legislators to pass the prescription drug affordability board proposal that will be in front of them this legislative session.
The good news is that in the past 20 years, many pharmaceutical treatments have become available for MS. The bad news is that the price of MS treatments doubled from 2011 to 2017. In 2020, the brand pharmaceutical median price for MS treatments was $91,835 per year — and almost all treatments must be taken every year.
According to a National Multiple Sclerosis Society survey, 40% of people with MS have altered the use of their medication due to the cost — with some stopping their treatment altogether or skipping doses. People with MS on Medicare Part D face out-of-pocket costs of more than $6,000 just for their MS treatment. For those on a fixed income, this can place their needed medications out of reach. The painful reality is that medications do not work if people cannot access them.
Our health care system is failing Coloradans who are struggling to keep pace with the rising cost of health care and medications. In response, Colorado lawmakers have an opportunity to vote yes on a prescription drug affordability board this legislative session to help bring transparency to drug pricing and lower the cost of expensive drugs. As citizens, we have the power to put this at the top of the to-do list for our elected officials and make a difference for thousands of Coloradans in need of relief.
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