Patient advocates launch drug pricing ad campaign

Patient advocates launch drug pricing ad campaign
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A patient advocacy group is launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign calling on lawmakers to pass key drug pricing bills before the end of the year.

Patients for Affordable Drugs Now said they are launching TV, digital and radio ads across the country featuring patients who support three proposals in the House, Senate and from the White House to rein in skyrocketing drug prices. 

The ads will run in the District of Columbia, as well as “key states and districts,” David Mitchell, the group’s founder and president, told reporters on a call. The campaign will launch Thursday with a national cable TV and radio ad. It will expand to local TV, digital and radio ads in targeted Senate and House districts over the upcoming weeks, the organization said. 

Mitchell would not disclose which specific districts, because he said he didn’t want to alert “Big Pharma” in advance.  

Mitchell said the ads will urge lawmakers to pass a bipartisan Senate Finance Committee bill (S. 2543), as well as the signature drug pricing bill from House Democrats (H.R. 3). 

The Senate bill, which is backed by the administration, is facing Republican opposition over a provision that would impose a limit on drug price increases in Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program.

The bill would force drug companies to pay money back to the government if their prices rise faster than inflation. It faces long odds of making it to the Senate floor without substantial changes, but it is likely far more palatable to Republicans than a competing bill in the House.

The House legislation is the signature effort from Democratic leaders to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. 

The bill will allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices for up to 250 drugs per year, and the savings will apply to people in private insurance plans as well as Medicare. 

The measure is expected to pass the House later this month or early next month, though there are still concerns from some Democratic lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats go down to the wire with Manchin Schumer unloads on GOP over elections bill: 'How despicable of a man is Donald Trump?' This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to kill the bill in the Senate, calling it “socialist.”

Mitchell said the group is also endorsing an international pricing policy from the White House that would bar Medicare from paying more than other countries for prescription drugs.