It is time for Washington state to stand up for the health of its citizens and demand drug companies lower prices and curb promotional and lobbying expenses.

Share story

The rising cost of medications and the lack of regulation on drug marketing and lobbying is putting life-sustaining medications out of reach.

I know; I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 4 years old. Paying for my supplies throughout childhood was made affordable given my parents’ health insurance. Unfortunately, when I aged out of their plan and began providing for myself, the high costs became burdensome.

My first insurance plan was provided by my employer and had a high deductible. This meant my insurance would cover costs after I spent $5,000. I spent nearly $600 a month on insulin and related supplies, which exceeded my rent at the time. Today, the cost would be closer to $1,000.

Insulin was initially brought to market back in the early 1920s, and it was expected that market competition would lower the price. Instead, I have seen insulin prices rise nearly triplein the last decade, with production and sales dominated by three companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sonafi. A lawsuit was filed earlier this year accusing the companies of driving up the prices of insulin.

The companies denied allegations of price fixing and have said the increase in pricing was a result of the pharmaceutical supply chain and marketing needs. The supply chain has drugmakers paying rebates to pharmacies and insurance companies to ensure their drug is kept on the list of approved drugs for a certain treatment.

The rising cost of medications is paying for the billions of dollars drug companies are spending on lobbying, advertising and political-campaign contributions.

It is time for Washington state to stand up for the health of its citizens. A plan to keep down the costs of critical medications for chronic illness by limiting the marketing tactics of all drug companies should be implemented — now.

Given that diabetes affects almost one out of every 10 Americans, it’s likely that you already know someone who currently needs insulin or another treatment for diabetes. Furthermore, diabetes is but one of many chronic health issues requiring medication that affect the lives of so many Americans.

As a citizen of this state, and someone likely to know at least one person who is affected by a chronic illness faced with rising costs, you can do something. Call the Washington state legislative hotline (800-562-6000) and tell lawmakers to focus on regulating drug companies’ spending and pricing.

The daily expense of life-sustaining drugs should not be determined by the company’s desire to pay for advertising to increase profits. We need to enact legislation that caps the cost structure of these medications to benefit the consumer.

We should not be asking those with a chronic disease to mortgage their future by having to pay the price these companies demand.