The statistics are grim. Over the past year, 58 million Americans experienced “medication insecurity” — reporting that they could not afford a needed prescription drug.
Almost half of Americans with diabetes have gone without treatment because of cost.
However, the stories are even more agonizing. Antavia Worsham was just getting started in life.
The Cincinnati native was 22 years old, working two jobs, but she was struggling to afford the $1,200 cost for a 90-day supply of insulin. She was forced to ration her life-saving medication.
Antavia died in April 2017. The official cause was diabetic ketoacidosis.
Meaghan Carter was a nurse in suburban Dayton.
On Christmas night one year ago, the 47-year-old passed away after she had to ration her insulin while she was between jobs.
Meaghan died one week before she was set to start a new nursing job with health coverage.
Stories like these are far too common. Ohioans are desperate for relief from the burden of ever-escalating drug prices, but all Donald Trump has done is offer one broken promise after another.
In January 2018, Trump pledged to “get those prescription drug prices way down.” Since that time, prescription drug prices have continued to rise, jumping 10 percent over the first six months of the year, well above the rate of inflation.
The drug companies are still jacking up costs even after they reaped a massive windfall from the GOP tax scam.
It’s no surprise that the drug companies are making out like bandits under the Trump administration. While Trump talks a good game about trying to lower drug costs, at the same time he’s surrounded himself with Big Pharma executives and lobbyists. Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, is a former pharmaceutical company executive. Trump’s top domestic policy advisor is a former drug company lobbyist. Big Pharma is calling the shots at the White House, and patients continue to suffer.
However, Democratic lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and Columbus are taking action to bring real relief to Ohio families.
This week House Democrats are moving forward with the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which will allow the Medicare program to negotiate directly with the drug companies on prices, bringing costs down for patients and saving the federal government about $500 billion over the next decade.
That’s good for consumers, good for Medicare — and it’s enormously popular, with nearly 9 out of 10 Americans expressing support for the concept. It’s so popular that at one time even Donald Trump supported it.
But now that Big Pharma and their GOP buddies in Congress have talked with Trump, he’s flip-flopped and won’t back this common-sense bill.
Republicans know they’re on the wrong side of the issue, so they’re desperate to distract from their inaction and pandering to the prescription drug industry.
Congressman Bob Latta’s recent column advocates for a “bipartisan plan” on prescription drugs — but fails to mention the House bill has zero Democratic co-sponsors.
As Trump stands in the way of action and congressional Republicans offer half-hearted proposals, Democratic legislators at the Ohio Statehouse are working to address prescription drug prices, as well.
State Rep. Beth Liston, state Rep. Kristin Boggs, state Sen. Hearcel Craig and state Sen. Nickie Antonio have introduced the Insulin Affordability Act to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $100 a month.
These bills would come too late for Antavia Worsham or Meaghan Carter. Their families have become advocates, so that no other Ohio family has to deal with burying a loved one because of Big Pharma’s greed — and Donald Trump’s broken promises.
David Pepper is the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.