November 6, 2017 Blogs

Ann Neilson goes to Washington

November 6

Ann Neilson barely breaks 5-foot, but she stood pretty tall in Washington, DC on Nov. 2.

The 68-year-old retired nurse from Madras, Oregon flew to the nation’s Capitol to tell her lawmakers exactly how high drug prices impact her.

“I’m on the drug Restasis for dry eye syndrome,” she said. “It is now over $1,800 for a three-month supply.”

There’s no generic; her co-pays are $515 every time she needs a Restasis refill.

That’s a lot of cash. She even skips doses to stretch her prescription due to the high price.

Neilson described dry eye syndrome as a nonstop gritty and irritating feeling in her eyes. If she doesn’t take her medicine, her corneas will become bumpty, negatively impacting her vision. They could even tear. She would need cornea replacement surgery if that were to happen.

“It’s so important that I continue with the eye drops so I keep my corneas healthy,” she said.

Neilson is incensed at the behavior of the international corporation Allergan, which makes Restasis. To maintain its monopoly pricing power, it has pulled all kinds of shady maneuvers since gaining approval for the drug in 2002.

“It’s all about greed,” she said.

She’s not the only one crying foul.

CEO Brent Saunders’ latest decision, to transfer the patent for its blockbuster $1.5 billion drug to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, has been widely condemned

The despicable action triggered a Congressional fracas, including a scathing letter from four high-powered Democratic Senators, a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday in D.C., and plans for a bill by Sen. Claire McCadkill, D-Mo., to block the transfer.

Saunders could even be dragged before Congress and forced to explain himself, ala Heather Bresch of Mylan and Martin Shkreli of Daraprim.

Ann Neilson will be paying attention. So will we.

Neilson got to tell her lawmakers, including Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, and Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican, about solutions to speed generic drug competition and stop bad actors from hurting patients. Ann told her representatives she’s counting on them to support the CREATES Act, a bipartisan bill that would prevent drug companies from blocking cheaper generic drugs and help lower prices.

Patients for Affordable Drugs strongly supports the CREATES Act and is committed to giving patients a voice in this debate.

Don’t sit idly by as Big Pharma games the system and blocks generic drug competition.

Here’s how you can support the CREATES Act:

Follow this link and send letters to your lawmakers

You can also call the Senate Judiciary at (202) 224-5225 and the House Judiciary at (202) 225-3951.

Many thanks to Ann, and all of you, for advocating behalf of patients!

The team at Patients For Affordable Drugs


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.