Opinion | Michigan doctors support state drug panel, ignore Big Pharma ads
Across Michigan, physicians work hard to help our patients get access to the care they need – and that includes supporting legislation that can reduce the astronomical cost of prescription drugs. That’s why many of us are voicing our support for legislation that would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) in Michigan.
As advocates for our patients, doctors support Senate Bills 483 - 485 to create the PDAB, because this independent board, made up of nonpartisan experts in health care, can help rein in runaway prescription drug costs. Using data, this panel can set limits on the most expensive drugs, making medications more affordable for countless Michigan families.
Unfortunately, Big Pharma and its army of high-priced Michigan lobbyists are actively misleading people and even trying to fool families and legislators by explicitly representing themselves as physicians who oppose the PDAB.
Yes, you read that right.
Big Pharma, tapping its massive billion-dollar ad budgets, is using paid advertisements and websites to mislead people into thinking doctors don’t support an independent board designed to cap prescription drug costs, make them more affordable and hold drug corporations accountable for gouging our patients.
We wish to be clear. Doctors want our patients to get access to affordable medications. In Michigan, doctors support the PDAB. The Michigan State Medical Society supports PDAB. The Michigan Chapter of the American College of Physicians supports the PDAB. So do the AARP, the NAACP and many other organizations that advocate for families.
Here’s who doesn’t support Michigan’s PDAB: Large drug companies.
During hearings in September, every organization that testified against PDAB was either funded by or linked closely to pharmaceutical companies, including the National Organization for Rare Diseases and the Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology (MSHO), whose website shows a long list of “elite” corporate sponsors that include drug giants Merck, Amgen, Abbvie, Pfizer and many more.
In 2022, Pfizer pulled in more than $100 billion in revenue; Johnson & Johnson, more than $94 billion. Merck has raked in $49.9 billion with a single drug, diabetes medication Januvia, since it launched without competition 17 years ago. Merck’s CEO Robert Davis was paid a handsome $13.72 million.
This summer, Amgen announced that it hauled in $7 billion for the quarter – more than $559 million over last year – even as patients must pay thousands of dollars for lifesaving drugs like cancer medication Enbrel, which has gone up in cost by 346 percent since 2008.
As a physician, I can say with certainty that a drug is not 346 percent more effective just because it’s 346 percent more expensive.
Meanwhile, my patients and countless more across Michigan can’t afford their life saving medications. Michiganders’ wages went up 11 percent between 2012 and 2017, yet drug costs increased by nearly 60 percent. Patients and families are constantly getting left behind, even as drug companies continue to pad their profits. Our patients are the ones who suffer.
Physicians all too often see our patients make the hard choices between paying for heat in winter or the asthma medication they need to breathe. We care for patients who were forced to ration their diabetes medication or insulin, which can cost hundreds of dollars out of pocket, putting them at risk of experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be fatal if untreated.
Michigan’s PDAB is a crucial step toward reining in out-of-control drug costs. With a robust PDAB that can keep costs in check and hold drug companies accountable when they try to gouge families, Michigan can help more people get access to affordable medications. Michigan doctors support PDAB because we took an oath to put our patients’ health and wellbeing first, unlike profit-driven drug companies.
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