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New York organizations urge Governor Cuomo to cut Rx costs

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ALBANY, N.Y. — A broad coalition of organizations representing New York patients, consumers and workers are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to support a comprehensive policy package to address the high cost of prescription drugs in the next Executive Budget. To date, no governor in the nation has proposed and advocated for a comprehensive prescription drug access and market reform package as advocated by the signing organizations.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

In 2016, 18% of New York residents stopped taking medication as prescribed due to cost. New Yorkers’ average annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased 57.8% between 2012 and 2017, while the annual income for New Yorkers only increased 11.5%.

The 34 groups sent a letter to the Governor calling on him to address four key areas in the state budget:

  • Price Gouging – Promote public health and prevent price gouging by empowering the State Attorney General to take civil action against drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors who charge exorbitant prices for essential drugs and require prescription drug manufacturers to notify the state of any substantial cost increases within a 12 month period with a justification for the increase.
  • Manufacturer Disclosure and Transparency – Establish state policy to require a manufacturer of a brand name drug doing business in New York to notify the Attorney General and the Department of Health if they enter into a “pay-to-delay” agreement with another drug manufacturer in order to delay the introduction of a generic version of such drug to the market.
  • Safe and Legal Importation of Pharmaceuticals – Instruct the New York State Department of Health to put together a plan that can be approved by the federal government that will assure that wholesale importation of prescription drugs from Canada into our state will be safe and cost-saving for all New Yorkers.
  • Promoting and Expanding the EPIC Program – Increase access to affordable prescription drugs by expanding income eligibility criteria to allow older New Yorkers to sign up for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) Program and launch a broad public outreach and awareness campaign to encourage more eligible persons to apply for EPIC benefits.

What the letter’s co-signers are saying:

Beth Finkel, AARP New York State director: “New Yorkers’ average drug costs are rising more than five times faster than their incomes. That’s simply unsustainable. We look forward to working with the Governor to implement comprehensive changes that stop prescription drug greed.”

Kristin Brown, president and chief executive officer, Empire Justice Center: “Empire Justice Center supports AARP’s proposal to ensure that equitable prescription access is available for all New Yorkers.  Currently people all across New York State are faced with the choice between their life-saving medications and paying basic living expenses due to limited incomes and unnecessarily high drug prices. Choosing food and shelter or medications endangers the health and safety of our loved ones and we believe New York can do better!  We encourage Governor Cuomo to embrace these proposals and include them in his 2020 Executive Budget.”

Ann Marie Cook, president/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester: “Every day older adults contact us seeking help to pay for prescription drugs. Every day, we see older adults making the heartbreaking decision to eat or fill their medications. Every day we talk to people who cut their pills in half to make them go further. It is impossible for people on fixed incomes to absorb the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs. I sincerely hope that NYS takes a leadership role in this issue so that older adults can live without fear of financial ruin due to rising prescription drug costs.”

 Robert Hayes, president and CEO of Community Healthcare Network: “Exorbitant drug prices cannot be allowed to stand between New Yorkers and access to life-saving treatments.”


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