RICHMOND, Va. — Virginians for Affordable Medicine — a coalition of small businesses, doctors, local governments, patient advocates, faith leaders, and grassroots supporters — today criticized four members of House Commerce and Energy Subcommittee #4 who voted to put big pharmaceutical companies’ interests above those of Virginians who depend on life-saving medicine.
The bill, HB 1596 carried by Delegate Karrie Delaney (D-Chantilly), would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board — a small, independent group of health care experts who would analyze the affordability of a limited number of high-priced prescription drugs and set reasonable cost caps to protect consumers from harmful price-gouging. Rather than assist Virginians with the ballooning cost of prescription medicines, Delegates Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg), Israel O’Quinn (R-Bristol), Michael Webert (R-Culpeper), and Joseph McNamara (R-Salem) chose pharmaceutical companies’ profits over the health of Virginians.
Today’s development comes after PhRMA, the trade association for drug manufacturers, testified against HB 1596 this morning and instead threw their support today behind Del. Israel O’Quinn’s (R-Bristol) HB 1782 — legislation that the Virginia Association of Health Plans says will simply raise health premiums on all Virginians. The Youngkin administration also stated they were “strongly opposed” to the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation. House Republicans have come out with strong support for drug company-backed HB 1782.
A 2022 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 82% of Virginians – including wide bipartisan majorities – support the establishment of a PDAB, and 56% of Virginians have personally felt the negative effect of the rising cost of medicine.
“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.”
In 2022 alone, drug companies hiked the price of more than 1,200 drugs by an average of 31.6% – about four times the rate of inflation. If the PDAB were to be established, Virginia would join seven other states, including neighboring Maryland, that have adopted Prescription Drug Affordability Boards. AARP Virginia has endorsed the legislation, and the Commonwealth Council on Aging included the bill in its 2023 legislative recommendations.
AARP Virginia State President Joyce Williams said “Too many older Virginians, and Virginians of all ages, are struggling just to get by and pay for needed medications. I am disappointed that these Delegates did not see fit to give us all a helping hand today.”
Over the last decade, Virginians have been shouldering a greater burden of prescription drug costs than most Americans. In 2020, Virginians spent 36% more per person on prescription drugs than the national average: $1,500 in Virginia compared to $1,100 nationally. From 2015 to 2020, Virginians’ average spending on prescription drugs rose from $1,400 to $1,500 – a 6.6% increase, more than twice the national increase. Last year, Virginians paid a combined $3.2 billion on prescription drugs in the commercial market.
“Hardworking people are drowning in massive inflation, and the costs of prescription drugs are weighing them down,” said Rhena Hicks, executive director of Freedom Virginia. “Virginians deserve to keep more of what they earn. It seems the drug lobbyists and Republicans on House Commerce and Energy disagree.”
- WRIC Richmond: Virginia lawmakers revive effort to control prescription drug prices
- WDBJ Roanoke: State lawmakers propose prescription drug affordability board
- CBS6 Richmond: Virginia lawmakers hope to take action to rein in cost of prescription drugs