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 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 $2.9 billion to bring a new drug to market, and that investors demand high returns.
First, the $2.9 billion dollar figure is bunk. It is based on a report done at Tufts University paid for by the drug corporations. The Tufts researchers won’t even disclose their source data. It’s like the tobacco companies paying for research that says smoking doesn’t cause cancer. Several studies estimate the cost to develop a new drug is much lower — only about one-quarter that amount. Here is another 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.”
Taxpayers fund much of the early stage research and drug development. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins says: “We at NIH play a very major role in the early stages of almost every drug that gets developed and approved by FDA. In fact, it was 100% between 2010 and 2016.”
But the federal government fails to put any guardrails on the price companies can charge for drugs invented with taxpayer funding.
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. Innovation leads to new products, and new products lead to profit. So bringing U.S. prices in line with other wealthy nations — where drug companies still make a profit — will have little impact on true innovation. It will encourage research into new drugs that are highly valuable and can command high prices.
The biopharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable in the world — with profits that are almost three times the average of companies in the S&P 500. Health care and pharma executives are the highest compensated among all industries. They are spending a large percentage of their budgets on advertising, marketing, and lobbying. There is plenty of money available to lower prices, pay for research, and still deliver a good return for investors.
Look — what the drug companies do is threaten us to stop bringing new drugs to market if we don’t pay whatever price they demand. This is a scare tactic. It’s like in a movie when someone pulls a gun and says “give me all your money or I’ll pull the trigger.” It’s time to stand up to them and build a system that restores balance between innovation and affordability.
Q. You call for transparency from others. Do you disclose your funding?
Absolutely. Patients For Affordable Drugs is funded through several sources. For our most recent fiscal year, 2020, David and Nicole Mitchell contributed $75,000. David also donates his service as a full-time volunteer. Nate Mitchell contributed $25,000. We received a grant for $669,500 from Arnold Ventures. The Public Health Program of the Open Society Foundations contributed $100,000. We received smaller donations and interest income totaling $8,308.35.
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 is 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 advocacy groups, however, don’t speak out against high drug prices because they rely on funding from drug companies. So we represent patients on the issue.
Q. Are you bipartisan?
Yes, we have a bipartisan board of directors, including Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. We supported elements of President Trump’s plan to lower drug prices, and we will mobilize behind good proposals from President Biden. Our community of patients and allies is bipartisan because the problem of high drug prices affects people everywhere regardless of political affiliation. Surveys show that Americans on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly support reforms to lower drug prices.