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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: October 28, 2019 08:44 AM
From: Representative Dan Frankel
To: All House members
Subject: Improving the Affordability of Life-Saving Prescription Drugs
During a recent Policy Committee Hearing, a woman spoke about the extreme measures that her partner had to take in order to afford enough insulin to manage his Type 1 Diabetes. From purchasing on the black market to having a friend from Paris bring insulin from France, patients will do what they must when it comes to securing medication necessary for survival. We are all well aware of how vulnerable people are when they lack health coverage, but this patient had health insurance. Even with his health plan, he was required to pay $1,500 out of pocket for the drug when he was short due to illness.

Stories like this one are not unusual—half of Pennsylvania’s adults have struggled under a healthcare affordability burden in the last year. More specifically:
  • 1 in 5 Pennsylvanians did not fill a prescription due to cost.
  • 1 in 6 skipped doses or cut pills in half to save money.
  • 2 in 3 are worried that the prescriptions they need will become unaffordable in the future.

Equally alarming is the fact that more and more Pennsylvanians must make sacrifices between basic needs and critical medications:
  • 15% of Pennsylvania adults have been contacted by a collection agency in the last year.
  • 12% used up all or most of their savings.
  • 10% were unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat, or housing.
  • 7-8% either racked up large amounts of credit card debt or borrowed money.

In our ongoing effort to ease these burdens, I will be introducing the “Pharmaceutical Advisory Board Act,” which would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The board would determine whether certain drugs pose affordability burdens and set limits on the amount that pharmacies, providers, patients, health plans, and wholesalers pay for necessary drugs. It would also allow for importation to be utilized when shortages of medically necessary drugs occur. Similar legislation has passed in Maine, Florida, Colorado, and Vermont.

Like electricity, home heating, and clean water, medication is an absolute necessity for many Pennsylvanians.

Please join me in righting the injustice of increasing prescription costs faced by Pennsylvania patients who depend on the availability of safe, affordable prescription drugs.

Introduced as HB2212