Letter: Senate must pass reforms to make medications affordable

FILE - This Aug. 2, 2018, file photo shows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration building behind FDA logos at a bus stop on the agency's campus in Silver Spring, Md. The FDA on Monday, July 22, 2019, approved nine generic versions of Pfizer Inc.’s Lyrica. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In his recent speech on lowering costs for Americans, President Biden again called on Congress to pass reforms to make medications more affordable, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. As a senior and one of many Utahns who depend on expensive prescription drugs to manage health conditions, I can’t afford to wait any longer for relief.

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain for years. When I was prescribed the medication Lyrica, it alleviated much of the pain I deal with every day. But Lyrica is priced at over $850 for just one bottle, and I need one to two bottles per month. I cannot afford that, so I made the very tough decision to go without it — forcing myself to live in pain, take less effective medications, go on disability, and retire early.

When Lyrica first came to market in 2007, a bottle was priced at about $150. Since then, the price has increased by more than the rate of inflation every year, pushing it further out of reach for patients like me.

Right now, the Senate can lower prices for patients by limiting annual price increases on drugs like Lyrica to stop price gouging by drug corporations; instituting a cap on out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries and people using insulin; and allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some of the most expensive drugs. These reforms would make it possible for me to afford my medications without constantly worrying about how I will be able to make ends meet.

The Senate can pass these reforms, which have already been passed by the House, through reconciliation now to finally deliver on their promise to bring relief to me and millions of Americans. Patients shouldn’t have to live in this reality. Congress, we are counting on you.

Meg Jackson-Drage, Magna

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