Q. What is your goal?
The goal of Patients For Affordable Drugs is to educate, activate, and mobilize patients in support of policy changes to drive down drug prices. We will share stories of Americans struggling to afford prescriptions and mobilize patients to fight a rigged U.S. pricing system.
Q. I’m a patient and my drugs are unaffordable. What should I do?
Take action. Share your story with us , write to your member of Congress, tell your friends about the outrage of skyrocketing drug costs.
Q. The drug companies say they need high profits in order to warrant taking the risk to develop new drugs. They say it costs $2.6 billion to bring a new drug to market, and that investors demand high returns.
First, the $2.6 billion dollar figure is bunk. It is based on a report done at Tufts University paid for by the drug corporations. It is like the tobacco companies paying for research that says smoking doesn’t cause cancer. The Tufts researchers won’t even disclose their source data. Here are the facts from an independent analysis offered by a physician/PhD team at Baylor and Rice Universities:
“The cost of research and development is only 10 percent of the $1-2.6 billion figure that is claimed in industry-supported studies. More than 50 percent of important discoveries are made in independent academic centers, funded by taxpayers, and 85 percent of basic research is conducted in academic centers. The drug industry spends 1.3 percent of its budget on basic research, but 20-40 percent on advertisements and related activities.”
Q. By trying to lower drug prices, aren’t you risking that the drug corporations will just walk away from the work to develop new drugs?
No. As patients completely dependent on innovation and new drugs for survival, we would never do that. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable in the world—averaging about 20 percent profit. Health care and pharma executives are the highest compensated among all industries. They are spending 20-40 percent of their budgets on marketing. There is plenty of money available to lower prices, pay for research and still deliver a good return for investors. Fact is, we are already paying for most research as taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health and academic centers. Look—what the drug companies do—threatening us that they will stop bringing new drugs to market if we don’t pay their outrageous prices—is nothing more than a way to scare us. It’s like an extortion racket in a movie when someone puts a gun to your head and says “give me all your money or I’ll pull the trigger.” It’s time to stand up to them.
Q. You call for transparency from others. Will you disclose your funding?
Absolutely. Patients For Affordable Drugs is funded through several sources. For 2017, David and Nicole Mitchell contributed $166,110. David also donates his service as a full-time volunteer. Nate Mitchell contributed $33,334. We received a grant for $1,093,500 from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF.) The Public Health Program of the Open Society Foundations contributed $100,000. We received smaller donations from the Commonwealth Foundation, fellow patients, and allies totaling just over $37,000. For 2018, we had a total of $556,277 in revenue, with $404,000 of it from LJAF.
Q. What if patients or consumers want to send financial help?
People interested in supporting Patients For Affordable Drugs can click here. We hope you’ll also share your story, so we can lift up patient voices in the debate around drug prices. While we do not actively ask patients for donations, we can use the help and will put your money to good use.
Q. But drug corporations have amassed a huge war chest — they spent $2.3 billion on lobbying over the past decade. Isn’t this a fool’s errand?
We are under no illusions – Patients For Affordable Drugs will be massively outspent by the drug lobby. But we have one thing they don’t, real Americans who demand a change in drug pricing.
There is an old saying: “The only way to be sure of failure is not to try.” And we are not alone. Among the other forces working to lower drug prices are family physicians, internists, the American Medical Association, pharmacist groups, AARP, health care worker groups—even Walmart. Most patient groups, however, don’t speak out against high drug prices because they get funding from drug companies. So we will represent patients.
Q. Are you bipartisan?
Yes, we have a bipartisan board of directors, including registered Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. We support elements of President Trump’s plan to lower drug prices, and we have mobilized patients to encourage enactment of Medicare negotiation. We’ve endorsed proposals by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Our community of patients and allies is bipartisan because the problem of high drug prices affects people everywhere regardless of political affiliation.