West Virginia health advocates call for lowering prescription drug prices

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — Health care proponents say the skyrocketing cost of drugs, is forcing some patients to ration their medicine, which can be dangerous. They also pointed out that right now the U.S. government has no power to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, especially for Medicare patients. They want Congress to change the rules.

“The drugs spent in this country is $600 billion. I would postulate that you could save a third of that. I think you could save down to less than $400 billion if the United States government would act to negotiate drug prices, just on Medicare alone,” said Don Perdue, a retired pharmacist, and former Delegate.

Of particular concern are the medications for diabetes. One advocate told the story of a young diabetic in his 20s, who began rationing.

“He got a lower grade insulin, which didn’t work for him. It works for some people but it didn’t work for him. And he died,” said Renate Pore, a health care advocate.

There may be action in Congress this fall, once members return from the August recess.

“If you ask them where the highest expense is and the biggest raise, it’s in prescription drug costs. We’ve got to do something about it. I mean I’m ready to do it. I think the Congress is ready to do it. These are all bipartisan bills,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R-West Virginia).

There are even concerns about the rising cost of generic medications, which are supposed to cost less.

Even if Congress doesn’t act, the West Virginia State Legislature might. That’s because West Virginia has among the highest rates of diabetes in the nation, and those medicines are among the most expensive.

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