Patients For Affordable Drugs, a new organization founded by a patient with an incurable blood cancer, has launched a nationwide drive to lower prescription drug prices. What is different about this advocacy group is it’s exclusive focus on drug prices and it’s funding being independent of the pharmaceutical industry.
Founder David Mitchell, the former head of a public policy advocacy firm in Washington, DC, contributed $75,000 of his own money, along with a $500,000 grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to get the group’s lobbying efforts off the ground.
“Drug corporations tell us if we don’t pay their outrageous prices, they won’t develop the new drugs people need,” said Mitchell. “But that’s just a form of extortion as if someone put a gun to your head and said ‘give me all your money or I’ll pull the trigger.’ The fact is—between enormous profits and millions wasted on drug advertising and marketing—there is room to deliver innovation and new drugs at lower prices.”
Mitchell, now 66, was diagnosed six years ago with multiple myeloma. His drugs cost $26,000 every month, and he is grateful they are keeping him alive.
“But drugs should not come at prices that bankrupt and ruin people’s lives,” he said.
Studies have shown that every major patient group in the U.S. receives funding from drug companies. Patients For Affordable Drugs (PFAD) will refuse donations from drug companies, their foundations, or any other organizations that profit from the development and distribution of prescription drugs.
PFAD proposes multiple solutions to the issue of high-cost drugs, such as breaking up monopoly powers of drug companies by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower costs for patients.
Other solutions offered by the group include speeding generics time to market to enable greater competition, disclosing secret deals made by pharmacy benefit managers who run prescription drug insurance programs, mandating drug corporations to disclose how they set prices if a drug is invented using taxpayer funding, and setting prices based on the value drugs deliver to patients.