Addressing the Drug Price Crisis

Editor’s Note: The National MS Society recently launched initiative to make MS medications affordable, simple and transparent, calling on leadership from all parties involved — pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, pharmacy benefit managers, specialty pharmacies, healthcare providers, policy makers, people with MS and others — to work together to focus on getting people with MS the medications they need to live their best lives. Learn more and ask your candidates to pledge their support.

As the founder and co-chair of the House Prescription Drug Task Force — the only group of Members of Congress dedicated to addressing the drug price crisis — I am committed to advancing legislative and regulatory solutions to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Before I signed the pledge, I was already working to make medications, including multiple sclerosis medications, more affordable. We have made many strides in research and treatment, but an unaffordable drug is 100 percent ineffective.

The National MS Society is a strong ally in addressing the problems of accessing medications, including rising drug prices. With nearly a 400 percent increase in the price of MS medications from 2004 to today, the MS Society’s initiative to make medications accessible comes at a critical time. Rising prices are about more than just one CEO, one drug manufacturer, or one drug.  Across the board we are seeing increases that put treatment out of reach of too many.

This summer, I held a town hall in San Antonio to discuss how rising drug prices affect local families. MS activist Lynn Cox eloquently spoke of the simultaneous rise in both treatment quality and price. She said her treatment costs $20,000 per vial of medication. More than one hundred people came out that day to share their experiences with unaffordable medications, and even more have written in to my office or contacted me on social media.

The problem requires legislative and administrative solutions.  With the town hall for constituents, briefings for congressional Members and staff, and my work in Congress, I am seeking solutions and looking for allies willing to make real progress.
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Lloyd Doggett

U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett serves Texas’ 35th congressional district and is a member of the Congressional MS Caucus. First elected to Congress in 1995, he has been a long time supporter of MS research funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Multiple Sclerosis Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (MS CDMRP). 

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  • Bonnie Burkley   Nov 4, 2016 12:55 PM
    I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980. 36yrs. Of MS has taken a toll on my body. 16yrs. ago I started on Avonex. I take it by injection once a week. A non-profit pays for it because Medicare will not. I pray every year to God that I will be accepted. It is not a cure but according to MRI it has slowed progression. Does not, however help with residual symptoms from 20yrs. prior. It's a cruel disease, I am now 70yrs. old and have MS for half my life. Our Country has failed to help the most needy...we are on fixed income...I need new glasses because of nerve damage from being blind. Cannot afford them at 600$. Why....we make to much from SS....I draw from my husband because after diagnosis I could no longer work and did not have enough time in (16). My congressman are Wicker and Cochran. I have asked for their help, but to no avail. My husband retired and 09/10 debacle took 401k, stocks and small business we counted on for comfortable life...we lost everything. I'm not complaining our life is full because God always meets our needs. My husband has prostate cancer and takes a 5,000$ injection every 4mos. Medicare pays for that..,there is something really wrong with a Country that has become so blatantly greedy, it can't take care of its people. Having paid IRS for 45yrs. during my husband's career...we and a lot of others deserve better. Thère is a lot more I could say, but so tired of the worry of it all.
  • Maggie Harling   Nov 4, 2016 2:46 PM
    I would just like to know WHY MS drugs are so very expensive? You note that costs have increased 400% since 2002. Why is that? I know that the drug companies say it's because of the cost of R and D, but I wonder also about the huge profits made by drug companies. Also, I get mailings about "educational" dinners for MS patients...those cant be cheap.
  • Steph   Nov 12, 2016 1:20 PM
    Unbelievable how much the MS meds actually cost, and how they have changed the past 10 years. C'mon!
  • Jill Hoffman   Nov 12, 2016 3:52 PM
    When I was first diagnosed with M.S. my co-pay was almost out of reach but I did have private insurance so it was "only" 100 dollars a month .I am on disability,but was worried about not being able to afford medicine if I got Medicare.I also on other expensive Meds but I found out about a program that helped me pay for my medications,thank goodness it is still a lot of money.
  • dblessum  Dec 21, 2016 11:28 AM
    This is a good article
  • Avatar
    maria1  Dec 28, 2016 1:35 PM
    In 1993 Betaseron was $800.00 for 15 shots, in 2016 Betaseron is $5,902.20 for 14 shots or $6,323.79(the monthly co-pay is $310.64) for 15 shots.

    As of November 30, my total drug costs is $69,141.97.

    At some point I ask myself, "Am I worth it?"
  • BrookeLowry  Feb 7, 2017 3:54 PM
    I share your goals. I support your wisdom.
  • BrookeLowry  Feb 7, 2017 4:02 PM
    Thank you so much for representing us. I am from Norman, OK. Your work is very much appreciated. I have a lot of family in the Dallas area, also in Tampa Bay, Florida and even in AZ. This situation is intolerable. We need you.
  • Klaus Belling   Jul 23, 2017 1:39 AM
    I was diagnosed with MS after I had a stroke in 2008. I startet out with COPAXANE, which I really liked, but had to many relapses with it.
    Since 2010 I am going to th MS center in Philadelphia, and I'm on TYSABRI, which is $18,000.00 every month. I haven't had a relapse since I'm on this medication, and Medicare is paying for it.
    Still the cost of this drug is heavenly to high, and I do feel so sorry for people without insurance.
  • Richard J   Aug 17, 2017 4:27 PM
    Hi, I am wondering if you in your state if you have any thought of implementing Cannabis Oil as a safe way to help control MS symptoms, eg. spasms and nerve pain?
    I am 62 years young and Cannabis/ Marijuana have never been a part of my life. But after being diagnosed with MS 6-7 years ago and having painful symptoms I was prescribed normal prescription pills. They played a somewhat relief roll. The drugs where paid for by the Alberta health care system. The monthly cost for brand name drugs were approximately $1000. I have started on Cannabis oil just over 2 years ago at a cost of about 1/2 plus far superior pain relief, totally on the ball awake and functional. No side effects. I'm legally prescribed this but it is not covered by any plan in Canada yet. I purchase it from a legal company which is in operation in Alberta. I hope when it is legalized shortly in Canada, our Government will see the huge positive impact to many patients dealing with pain.
    Is Cannabis oil legal in your state and what are your thoughts?