OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Testifies at Prescription Drug Price Transparency Hearing

Health care

Maribeth Guarino

Former High Value Health Care, Advocate, PIRG

Earlier this month, Oregon released its fourth annual report on prescription drug prices. Health Care Advocate Maribeth Guarino testified on one of the panels at the hearing, sharing some of the stories consumers have shared with her about the cost of their prescriptions, especially insulin. Some patients have paid $300 per month for their insulin. Assuming a young diagnosis, some quick math reveals that an Oregonians diagnosed at a young age with diabetes may pay more than $200,000 for insulin over the course of their lifetime.

“That’s not including health insurance premiums, emergencies, or a myriad of other health care needs that you might have to pay for. That’s not accounting for inflation or the rising cost of prescriptions,” she said during her presentation. Though Oregon has made some progress towards limiting the cost of insulin, there is a lot of work to be done to lower costs across all prescription drug spending.

The costs of prescriptions is a huge contributor to overall health care spending, and the transparency program sheds some light on what that means for Oregon. Some key findings from this year’s report include:

  •  20-30% of health plan spending is on prescription drugs
  • Reported price increases averaged 19.9% for generics & 13.4% for brand-name drugs
  • Although the number of price increase reports have decreased, the number of high-cost new drug reports have increased*
  • Humira is the costliest drug in Oregon for the fourth year running, incurring almost $77 million in spending

*This does not mean that prices aren’t increasing. Manufacturers only need to report price increases of 10% or more, so prices may not be increasing enough to meet the reporting threshold.

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Maribeth Guarino

Former High Value Health Care, Advocate, PIRG

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