U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st District, joined hospital physicians and advocates on Tuesday at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital calling on the Trump Administration and Congress to take on big pharmaceutical companies with bold action to lower drug prices.
The event was part of the “People Over Pharma Profits” National Day of Action, with thousands of activists across the country demanding elected leaders develop a comprehensive plan to hold drug makers accountable, end drug monopolies and guarantee all patients can get affordable medicines they need.
“Americans want and deserve access to quality health care and affordable prescription drugs,” said Norcross. “New Jersey patients, pharmacists and doctors agree that high prices are forcing people to make unthinkable choices. Now, we must stand up to big pharma and act to save lives. To lower costs, I believe that we can and should be able to negotiate prices, make the pricing process more transparent, increase the availability of generics and continue to improve access to health insurance. I join New Jersey Citizen Action to call on my colleagues in the Senate to move House-passed drug pricing bills forward and to keep the drumbeat going for even more solutions that provide relief for families,” Norcross said.
And these increases, the statewide grassroots organization said, are not just for specialty drugs: the cost of the four most popular types of insulin nearly tripled over the past decade. This kind of price gouging kills patients, New Jersey Citizen Action said. When people cannot afford medicine, they are often forced to make the painful choice to not take it—turning a routine illness into a life-threatening condition.
“As a physician, I have heard directly from patients who say they are paying more and more for the medications they need,” said Dr. Jubril Oyeyemi, Virtua physician and founder of the Cherry Hill Free Clinic.
“This includes life-saving medications like insulin that have been around for decades. The people who feel the burden the most are the ones who can least afford it, including the uninsured, those with high deductible plans, and those who live in vulnerable communities. This must change,” Oyeyemi said.
According to New Jersey Citizen Action, Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 deal includes new monopoly powers for pharmaceutical corporations so they can charge more in the United States, Canada and Mexico. After failing to deliver on his 2016 campaign promise to bring down medicine prices, Trump’s new NAFTA could raise some drug prices here and undermine the president’s recently announced proposal to import cheaper drugs from Canada.
“President Trump really is talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue,” said Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action. “While he’s making a big show about lower drug costs for seniors, he’s at the same time trying to ram through a NAFTA 2.0 deal that would lock in higher drug prices by extending monopolies and would raise the cost of prescription drugs in Canada and Mexico–undermining his own recent proposal on Canadian importation,” said Collinsgru.
This event was one of more than 50 hosted by the Lower Drug Prices Now coalition in 32 states across the country. The coalition also released new polling by Data for Progress that shows large majorities want legislative solutions to stop drug corporations from jacking up prices and keep them high.
Polling results include:
- 84.2 percent (58.8 percent strongly/25.5 percent somewhat) support allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies;
- Only 4.7 percent oppose allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies;
- 68.5 percent strongly or somewhat support allowing the production of generic versions of life-saving drugs if the government determines that a drug company has raised prices beyond patients’ ability to pay;
- 61.2 percent strongly or somewhat support allowing the production of generic versions of life-saving drugs if the government determines the price of the drug is higher in the United States than it is in other countries.