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Trump running mate Vance to deliver 'the most important speech' of his career at Republican convention tonight; Alabama group receives grant to boost FAFSA submissions; Bilingual, multicultural staff needed for NJ addiction treatment; Toledo plant to manufacture EVs with federal funding.

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The Republican National Convention connects crime to migration. Kari Lake and delegates from Texas, Florida, and California talk about border issues. Desantis pokes fun at President Biden and Nikki Haley gives the night's big speech.

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Advocates urge VA governor to sign prescription-drug affordability bill

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Monday, March 25, 2024   

With the approval of the Virginia General Assembly, a bill reducing prescription drug prices is sitting on Gov. Glenn Youngkin's desk.

The bill establishes a prescription drug affordability board as an independent body evaluating drug price increases. A drug manufacturer can state its case for the cost increase before the board. But, if the increase is unfounded, the board could set a price on the drug for all Virginians to pay.

Jared Calfee, state advocacy director for AARP Virginia, said it is a first step, but there is no silver bullet to curb high prescription drug costs.

"This board would be looking to set an upper payment limit for up to 12 drugs," Calfee explained. "We're not going to completely solve the problem of prescription drug affordability overnight but it would make a real difference in the lives of a lot of people. And so, this is a first step and there are certainly going to be more things to do, more things to take a look at."

Drug companies have pushed back, saying the law will discourage research and development, or reduce access to medicine. But Virginians across party lines and age groups support drug affordability. Should the bill pass, Virginia would be the tenth state where prescription drug prices undergo an affordability review.

The real-world impacts the bill will have will vary from person to person and drug to drug.

Mara Shapiro is a patient advocate with Crohn's disease. Her medication, Stelara, costs more than $20,000 per dose, but she's on a copay assistance program to help offset the cost. Maintaining the program can be laborious and poor transparency can cause Shapiro delays in getting her medicine.

"It's just an unnecessary stressor or burden to already having multiple life-threatening chronic health conditions," Shapiro pointed out. "It's just frustrating that the cost for this one medication is so astronomically high that it makes it so much more difficult for me to obtain the medication every month."

AARP data showed the prices for the top 25 Medicare Part D drugs tripled since they were introduced, including Stelara. Since going to market in 2009, the drug's price shot up 184%. If it was on the same track as the Consumer Price Index, it would have only increased 41% by 2023.

Disclosure: AARP Virginia contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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