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Colorado Politics

By Barb Kirkmeyer, Dec 6, 2023

Despite significant and substantive concerns from patients, Colorado is moving ahead with an untested drug-pricing scheme that puts the health of our state’s rural residents at risk.

In 2021, lawmakers created the Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) to review drug prices. Eight states have created similar boards in recent years, but only three give bureaucrats the power to cap the price of medicine, and Colorado's is the closest to implementation. As usual, these experimental schemes make Coloradans the guinea pigs for the rest of the nation.

 

In August, the PDAB announced the first five drugs it will target. In theory, the board's goal is to make expensive medicines more accessible. But though that can create great headlines for some politicians, the concern in rural areas is it could impose even more obstacles to access to lifesaving medicines.

Barb Kirkmeyer
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Baltimore Sun

By James K. Glassman, Nov 16, 2023 

In May 2019, Maryland became the first state to establish a board to set drug prices. But nearly five years later, the board still hasn’t determined which medicines deserve limits or how to apply them.

 

Maryland was smart not to rush. There’s a distinct danger that cutting prices by government decree through a politically appointed Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) will do more harm than good. That’s certainly what Colorado is learning.

 

Several state legislatures in addition to Maryland, including Oregon and Maine, have approved PDABs, but Colorado is the first actually to name a group of drugs for price controls, and stiff resistance is emerging from the very people who are supposed to benefit.

STAT Health & Medicine

By Gunnar Esiason, Nov. 3, 2023

I was living on the precipice of end-stage disease when I enrolled in the clinical trial that resulted in the historically fast Food and Drug Administration approval for the game-changing cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta. Five years later, the worst parts of my CF are gone. I recently recovered from a viral infection that provoked a pneumonia-like illness without landing in a hospital tied to an oxygen tank. A decade ago, I would have had a vastly different outcome. Along with hundreds of other people with CF, I have also become a parent since Trikafta hit the market. The CF community’s baby-boom we’ve all worked toward has happened thanks to this drug.

 

But access to Trikafta is now at risk for several hundred people with CF, because of what some might consider to be good intentions.

Gunnar Esiason
Las Vegas REview-Journal

By James K. Glassman, October 31, 2023

Colorado’s government recently announced it is targeting five medicines for price controls — the first of up to 36 drugs over the next three years. Who doesn’t want to pay less for drugs? Or anything else, for that matter?

But government actions such as this one typically backfire, and Colorado’s clumsy intervention will have little or no impact on what individual patients pay. Instead, the Prescription Drug Affordability Board — like others moving ahead in states such as Maryland, Oregon and Michigan — threatens to limit access to the best drugs for the sickest Americans.

Colorado Politics

By Amber Freed, Sep 20, 2023 

An appointed panel of state bureaucrats, in the process of setting prices for prescription drugs, must focus on the real-world complex consequences of its actions on patients facing rare and chronic diseases — consequences that go well beyond cost.

The Prescription Drug Advisory Board (PDAB) is one of the most powerful panels ever created in Colorado. It has been tasked with cutting the cost of medicines through setting mandatory prices. What could be wrong with using the power of state government to simply cut drug costs?

As it turns out, there are numerous short-term, and long-term, red flags for patients. Our family’s story paints a clear picture of why the PDAB process is so troubling.

Amber Freed
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Denver Post

By Markian Hawryluk, Sep 2, 2023 

For people with cystic fibrosis, like Sabrina Walker, Trikafta has been a life-changer.

Before the 37-year-old Erie mother started taking the drug, she would wind up in the hospital for weeks at a time until antibiotics could eliminate the infections in her lungs. Every day, she would wear a vest that shook her body to loosen the mucus buildup.

One particularly bad flare-up, known as a pulmonary exacerbation, had her coughing up blood in 2019, so she was put on the newly approved breakthrough medication.

Within a month, her lung function increased by 20%, she said, and her health improved. Before she started taking Trikafta, she could count on three to four hospitalizations a year. Over the four years on the medication, she has been hospitalized only once.

“I was spending hours a day doing airway clearance and breathing treatments, and that has been significantly reduced,” Walker said. “I’ve gained hours back in my day.”

Now she runs and hikes in the thin Colorado air and works a full-time job. Other patients have seen similar gains with the drug therapy, allowing many to resume regular lives and even take themselves off waiting lists for a lung transplant. Yet Walker and scores of other Colorado patients with cystic fibrosis are worried they could lose access to that transformative medication.

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