When we launched the GOBOLDLY campaign two years ago, we set out to spotlight the new era of medicine and the tremendous opportunity that exists to tackle our most complex and devastating health conditions. Through this process, we have met amazing people – patients, family members, caregivers and advocates – who are passionate about the power and promise of medical research.
Their stories are a powerful reminder of what’s at stake in the broader public policy debate around medical innovation, access and affordability. They’ve asked us what they can do to help protect innovation, not just for themselves, but for generations to come. That’s why we launched Voters for Cures to bring together Americans of all ages, backgrounds and experiences who want a voice in protecting the next generation of medical innovation.
Americans are rightly concerned about the cost of health care, including the cost of their medicines. When patients struggle to afford their medicines, that’s a failure of our entire health care system. That’s why our industry supports policies that would change how our system pays for medicines and lowers costs for patients at the pharmacy counter. At the same time, there are proposals in Washington and state capitals that could threaten patients’ access to innovative treatments – now and in the future.
As policymakers consider policy changes, it is important that they hear from patients across the country who have benefited from new treatments for cancer, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C and other serious health conditions – and just as importantly, those who are still waiting for a cure.
No single group should ever claim to speak for all patients or their families; we know that patients hold many different views about what is best for the health care system. However, we also know from our work that many patients are genuinely concerned that policymakers aren’t hearing from those who are most affected by disease and who have the most to lose if misguided policies slow the pace of medical innovation. Voters for Cures gives those patients an opportunity to share their perspective.
Voters for Cures will provide a voice to people like Emily from Montana whose son is living with autonomic dysfunction. Emily relies on a groundbreaking treatment to help her son manage his symptoms. Currently, there is no cure for this disease, but Emily is passionate about achieving one in the future: “Developing new innovative treatments and medicines is crucial to ensuring a future for our children. Our nation must explore every avenue to developing new cures for debilitating and life-threating disease, and there is no better time to innovate than the present. As we look to the future, I want to make sure policymakers in Washington enact policy that allows innovation to flourish. Some proposals in DC threaten this progress and for that, I’m concerned.”
We also recently met Amy from South Carolina who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 13 years ago when she was a new mom. In that moment, a diagnosis of MS can be life-altering, but new, innovative medicines have helped her manage her condition and symptoms. She feels a personal connection to the mission of Voters for Cures: “Myself and millions of others need to know that there are revolutionary treatments and devices available to help us fight disease and begin to embrace an intense hope for our future and the future of our families. At the same time, innovation is extremely fragile. It is of the utmost importance that policymakers in Washington always keep in mind the stories of the patients they represent who, like me, are counting on them to help advance the next wave of cures, in order to not jeopardize future breakthroughs.”
Over the next several months, members of Voters for Cures will be active across the country, engaging with policymakers and stakeholders to preserve America’s leadership in medical innovation. If you, too, believe it’s critical that we protect the next generation of medicines that bring hope to so many, and you want to ensure that all patients have access to the medicines they need, then we invite you to join us at innovation.org/votersforcures.
Robert Zirkelbach Robert Zirkelbach is Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at PhRMA. He joined PhRMA in 2014 after working for seven years representing the health insurance industry. He likes Saturday afternoon BBQs on his deck, traveling, trying new restaurants, and attempting to play golf. He’s an avid, somewhat obsessive, Iowa Hawkeye fan and is lucky to have a wife that loves watching college football on Saturday afternoons.