FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kenyon Farrow
Date: September 28, 2016
Treatment Action Group, in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Fair Pricing Coalition Launch #FairDrugPricesNow Campaign, a new effort to organize the LGBTQ community around common-sense solutions to drug pricing and price increasing.
WASHINGTON - Treatment Action Group (TAG), an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for HIV and the dual epidemics of tuberculosis and hepatitis C, in conjunction with The Fair Pricing Coalition, an HIV community watchdog of HIV and HCV drug pricing and pricing increases, and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, have joined forces to launch #FairDrugPricesNow, a new campaign to mobilize LGBTQ people and their allies to address the continuing rise of prescription drug prices and drug price increases in the United States.
This campaign calls for several steps to combat rising prescription drug prices and price increases. The centerpiece of the campaign is a new educational video discussing the unfair system of drug pricing and pricing increases that currently exists in the United States and the disproportionate impact it has on LGBTQ people, those living with and affected by HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). The new video calls for increased transparency, requiring drug companies to disclose pricing for public programs like Medicare and Medicaid and to reveal the actual costs of the developing and manufacturing drugs. It was created by the HRC with funds from the Elton John AIDS Foundation and launches amidst increased public debate around the costs of prescription drugs and the morbidity and mortality that often results when vital drugs become out-of-reach for people with HIV and HCV as well as across the spectrum of other diseases.
”Rapidly escalating drug pricing trends cannot continue,” said Tim Horn, HIV Project Director of TAG and an FPC member. ”In 2016, federal spending on HIV/AIDS care and treatment will be in the ballpark of $26.4 billion. Our National HIV/AIDS Strategy aims to increase the percentage of people diagnosed with HIV who are on antiretroviral regimens and virally suppressed to at least 80 percent. Nationally, we’re only halfway there. If we’re to end HIV as an epidemic in the U.S., some things are going to need to change—runaway drug pricing being at the top of the list.”
“Sky-high drug prices can literally determine whether people live or die. Due to high prices set by pharmaceutical companies, private insurance as well as state Medicaid programs struggle to contain costs by creating artificial barriers to treatment in order to control costs,” says Kenyon Farrow, U.S. & Global Health Policy Director of TAG. “Given the disproportionate impact of HIV, HCV and other conditions on gay, bisexual and transgender people in the US, this is the moment where we should all be fighting for more fair and equitable access to treatment, and that starts with out of control drug pricing.”
“Over the years, we have seen HIV price increases and HCV drug prices rise to unsustainable levels. The annual and often bi-annual price increases taken by some HIV drug companies have in some instances resulted in drug costs over 100% higher than the initial price of drugs after FDA approval. The recent unconscionable overnight 5000% price increase of a drug for an opportunistic infection in people with HIV and pregnant women levied by Martin Shkreli when he was CEO of Turing and the recent six-fold price increase taken by Mylan for its EpiPen for life-threatening allergies in both adults and children is only the tip of the iceberg.” said Lynda Dee, FPC Co-Chair.
“No family should have to choose between paying for medicine or putting food on their table, but, more and more, patients and consumers are being priced out of lifesaving and necessary care,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Trainings. “We are proud to join with the Treatment Action Group and Fair Pricing Coalition to mobilize our communities in support of common-sense reforms to ensure that every person can access the care they need to live and thrive. Our outrage at needlessly inflated drug prices must be channeled into calls for change and a desire for action that reflects the urgent reality faced by so many families.”
“There have been numerous Congressional investigations and a comprehensive report issued by the Senate Finance Committee on astronomical drug process and price increases, but nothing has really changed to date. Thus, there is a need to raise awareness and mobilize the LGBTQ community to address this continuing crisis, said Dee. We have a long successful history of self-education and activism. Now is the time to turn our attention to unsustainable drug pricing and price increases.”
To learn more about the #FairDrugPricesNow campaign, visit http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/fairdrugpricesnow.