On Senate Floor, Kaine Reads Stories From Virginians Hurt By High Drug Prices, Calls For Legislative Solutions
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor sharing stories he’s received from constituents throughout Virginia who have been hurt by the high cost of prescription drugs. On the Senate floor, he called for commonsense reforms to bring drug prices down, including his legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and his legislation to put an end to the harmful patent strategies that block new drugs from coming to market.
Transcript of Speech Excerpts As Prepared for Delivery:
“Hundreds of Virginians have reached out to me to let me know how the high cost of prescription drugs affects their health, even their ability to put food on the table or a roof over their heads.”
“Daniel from Martinsville wrote to me about the high price of insulin. ‘I paid $505.00 for 3 bottles of Humalog Insulin (Eli Lilly) at Walgreens. This is a three month supply, but another Lilly insulin is required by my wife in order for her to avoid death – probably be a few hundred more.’”
“Laurie from Norfolk wrote to me to share her story. Laurie has rheumatoid arthritis and lives on Social Security. She writes, ‘The drug company wants $65,000 for the drug. With my Medicare part D, they only want $8,000 – over 1/3 of my annual income. I have applied for the drug company’s patient assistance program [because] the pain is too great. I can’t use my hands without the drug. The drug companies are getting away with robbery. We need Medicare to have the authority to negotiate drug prices.’”
“Ron from Arlington wrote me after he went to renew a prescription he had been taking for a year or more. ‘That is an outrageous increase of 100% or $100 more out of my pocket for exactly the same thing. I am a retired federal employee on a limited income and I am locked into this insurance plan for the rest of the year. So, I have to take $100 more out of my pocket to obtain the exact same thing.’”
“Marie from Virginia Beach wrote me about a drug that costs $375,000 a year. She writes, ‘Without the drug, I most likely will be bedridden. I cannot afford the exorbitant price…I recognize the recovery cost of research is the main expense, since manufacturing cost is extremely cheap, but when the sufferers cannot afford your drug, then what have you gained?’”
“We need to ensure that patients are able to access the medicine they need. I will continue to fight to bring down prescription drug costs so that Virginia families can get the care they need without jeopardizing their health or economic security.”
Kaine has been a strong advocate in the Senate for reducing prescription drug prices. In January, he introduced the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, which would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. In March, Kaine introduced the Biologic Patent Transparency Act to require companies to publicly disclose the web of patents that protect their biologics, making it easier for competitors to evaluate and plan for the development of generic versions of these drugs. He also wrote to three insulin manufacturers requesting information about recent price increases, how the revenue contributes to research and development, and what the companies are doing to help patients access affordable insulin.