RICHMOND, Va. — In the wake of legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) being defeated by the House of Delegates, the Virginians for Affordable Medicine coalition today celebrated the progress made this session as the coalition builds on this momentum as support for the PDAB grows across Virginia.
Below are the top five takeaways from the progress made this year in the fight to lower prescription drugs.
1) PDAB Received Strong Bipartisan Support
The Senate took a major bipartisan step forward for Virginians and delivered a big win for patients and consumers by voting to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which will lower the cost of medicine for all Virginians. SB 957 passed the Senate with bipartisan support by a 26-13 margin.
A 2022 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 82% of Virginians – including wide bipartisan majorities – support the establishment of a PDAB, while 56% of Virginians have personally felt the negative effect of the rising cost of medicine.
Support came from General Assembly Members in all corners of the Commonwealth including Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), who said “My district is medically underserved already, so it goes without saying that higher prescription prices have a significant impact on our rural hospitals and health care providers in providing quality care at an affordable price.”
Additionally, Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg) said “I figure they’ve [pharmaceutical manufacturers] made enough off that [COVID-19] vaccine they can take it a little easier on the consumer for a while.”
The legislation was also endorsed by a broad range of groups, including AARP Virginia, the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Virginia Association of Counties and the Commonwealth Council on Aging.
2) Real Virginians Drove the Conversation By Sharing Their Stories
The advancement of SB957 allowed Virginians from all over the Commonwealth to tell their stories of how the PDAB would improve their lives.
They include Charlottesville resident Mara Shapiro, who lives with Crohn’s disease and Addison’s disease and relies on expensive medications. In an interview with NBC29, Shapiro said, “While the prices of the Salu-Cortef medication aren’t as astronomically high as the Stelara is, there’s still a significant cost burden, I would say because there’s no alternative,” [Shapiro says] “I don’t have any other option other than this one particular drug. So for example, if the price of Salu-Cortef were to triple tomorrow, I’d have no other option and have to pay that because it keeps me alive.”
In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot, Jillian Goodwin from Norfolk, who lives with Cystic Fibrosis, shared her story and explained the emotional vulnerability and pain of not being able to afford her medication:
“It’s terrifying to contemplate that you have this medicine that is available to you that helps so much but can I even get it and can I afford it?” [Goodwin says].
3) Legislators Will Be Scored on Their Support for PDAB as Advocates Educate the Public About Their Position
Freedom Virginia — a non-partisan, non-profit c(4) organization dedicated to building a Commonwealth where all families have the financial freedom to thrive — will evaluate all 140 legislators in its upcoming post-session Affordability Scorecard. This bill will be considered as part of Freedom Virginia’s ‘Affordability Score Card’, which prioritizes legislation that would lower costsfor Virginians. Freedom Virginia will score legislators on their votes on several items of key economic legislation, including SB 957 and four other bills.
4) Bill Earned Support in Op-Eds and Editorials Published Across the Commonwealth
The bill gained traction in op-eds authored by legislators from across the Commonwealth and earned the endorsement of the editorial board of the Free Lance-Star — which covers news in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Caroline, Orange, and Culpeper — who called on the Governor and Republicans in the House to support the legislation.
5) The Fight Continues: Senator Petersen Will Re-Introduce the Bill in 2024
After the defeat of the Bill, Senator Petersen said he plans to carry the bill again.
“I am disappointed to see the bill defeated. We need this law,” said Chief Patron Senator Chap Petersen. “Skyrocketing prescription drug costs affect everybody: our seniors, our families, our children. We now have the means to bring this under control by using Federally-negotiated Upper Price Limits which can put reasonable caps on drug prices for both Medicaid and private customers. We will be back next year and we’ll get this done.”
More states across the country are considering legislation this year to create PDABs and join the eight states who have already passed them. As implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act this year will allow Medicare to begin negotiating with drug manufacturers on the price of burdensome medicine for the more than 1 million Virginians on Medicare, it is clear that momentum is growing nationwide for measures that hold drug companies accountable and lower medicine costs for consumers. More than 7.5 million Virginians who are not on Medicare still need relief, and the Virginians for Affordable Medicine coalition will continue its advocacy as it pushes for all hardworking Virginians to be able to afford life saving medicine.
Delegate Delaney also emphasized that the need for real solutions sooner rather than later.
“Virginians sent us to Richmond to fight for their interests, not for corporate bottom lines,” said Delegate Karrie Delaney (D-Chantilly) today. “People are paying too much to stay alive and healthy, and this isn’t a problem that is just going to go away. We need real solutions and we need them now. I will never stop fighting for lower prescription drug prices and I will re-introduce this legislation next year.”