Author Topic: Prop 61: Why California nurses back Marijuana Use By Margie Keenan  (Read 551 times)

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Idowu Olabode

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If you want to know why nurses across California are campaigning for Proposition 61, here’s one thing Long Beach nurses increasingly see.

Patients provided a heart stent for serious coronary disease sent home with directions to take anti-platelet drugs for continuing therapy, are returning to the ER with serious chest pain. Or dying before they get there. Why? They can’t afford the high out-of-pocket cost for their medication.

Millions of Americans suffer from diabetes which, untreated, can cause blindness, loss of limbs, kidney failure, heart attacks, or strokes. With insulin prices doubling or tripling, we see growing numbers of patients admitted to the hospital with elevated blood glucose levels because they can’t afford that cost.

Parents with children are struggling with trying to keep their child alive with ongoing treatment that can top $1,500 every month.



Drug prices are so high that operating room nurses cite delays in access to medications for pain and other basics that can extend for months.

Finally, California has the chance to strike back. Under Prop. 61 the state would be required to pay no more for prescription drugs for patients they cover than the discount prices, which can be up to 40 percent less, that are paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The drug industry is so terrified of the model this would set for the nation that it has already poured nearly $100 million into a misleading campaign to bury Prop. 61.

In their deluge of ads, they want you to believe veterans will pay more. Don’t believe it. Federal law limits drug price hikes to the VA to no more than the consumer price index. The drug giants threaten to raise drug prices for others, as if they are exercising any restraint now.

Everyone has heard of EpiPen and its 500 percent price hike for a two pack of the lifesaving medicine. That’s just a small window into a national scandal.

Over the past five years, average prices jumped 91 percent for the nation’s top 10 selling brand name drugs.

Gleevac, a critical drug for leukemia patients, went up 355 percent the past 15 years. Isuprel, a heart drug, up 526 percent in 2015 alone. Dutoprol, for high blood pressure, up 1,014 percent the past two years. Vomovo, an arthritis pain reliever, up 1,270 percent the past two years.

Californians have to act because it has become painfully obvious we can’t expect relief from Sacramento or Washington.

A modest bill in Sacramento this summer requiring more transparency, not even cutting prices, was so gutted by drug lobbyist-induced amendments, the author dropped the bill.

Congress has repeatedly failed to allow Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts on drug prices, the means by which every other industrial country controls drug price gouging.

The U.S. has the highest drug prices in the world, by far. The difference here? Big Pharma has spent $3.4 billion on federal lobbying alone since 1998, more than any other industry, to intimidate and bully lawmakers.

Such tactics have helped the top 50 drug makers pile up an unimaginable $518 billion in profits the past five years.

They’re not cycling all those massive profits back into to a cure for cancer or vaccines for Zika or other epidemics. Drug firms spend far more on marketing than on research and development, much of which is funded by taxpayers and conducted at public universities.

Other countries have a better way. In 2015 prices in the U.S. for the world’s top selling drugs were three times higher than in Britain, six times higher than Brazil, and as much as 16 times higher than in India.

Gilead markets Sovaldi, considered the most effective drug for patients with hepatitis C, at $1,000 a pill, or $84,000 for a 12-week treatment. Those who don’t get Sovaldi “can die some of the worse deaths I’ve ever seen,” Laura Bush, a New Mexico nurse practitioner, told The Atlantic.

The drug giants and those they have influenced to oppose Prop. 61 hope voters will ignore those deaths. Nurses know we cannot be silent, and we can not accept the status quo or the fleeting hope that our lawmakers will ever act to stem this disgrace.

Join us, to protect California patients and families, by voting Yes on Prop. 61.

Margie Keenan is a Long Beach registered nurse and board member of the California Nurses Association.

Source: Press Telegram


 
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