“Trying to make medications more affordable is important, but if Washington isn’t careful, we might leave innovation behind.” This is the message we heard from Amy, a Voters for Cures advocate from South Carolina who reminds us what’s at stake in the broader public policy debate around medical innovation, access and affordability.
Patients all across the country, just like Amy, bravely battle diseases each and every day. One thing that helps keep them going is knowing not only that biopharmaceutical researchers here in the U.S. are searching for new ways to fight their diseases but that we also have an ecosystem that allows those risks in R&D to take place.
Since we launched Voters for Cures, a national grassroots mobilization of patients, family members and caregivers, we have met powerful champions along the way. Amy, a mom of two teenagers who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 13 years ago, is just one example.
Amy recently opened up to share her story. When she was a new mom first diagnosed with MS, she recalls an overwhelming sense of fear. She worried about whether she would be able to care for her family and herself. She wondered if she would be present for all of life’s little moments so many of us take for granted.
Amy’s outlook on her disease has since changed. Over the past decade, medicines have helped change how she manages her condition. This is a result of new, evolving treatments that have improved our approach to treating complex conditions like MS. Recently, Amy received a treatment that was once used for leukemia that now has been studied and approved to treat her condition.
But Amy is worried that future breakthroughs could be at risk. It’s critical that patients can afford the medicines they need – and many Americans are rightly concerned about the cost of medicines and health care more broadly. That is why we support policies to lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs, including sharing discounts biopharmaceutical companies give insurance companies with patients at the pharmacy counter.
We cannot take progress for granted. At a time when policymakers in Washington and state capitals are considering proposals that would impede patients’ access and chill new research, it’s patients like Amy and her family who will face those consequences.
Looking ahead, Amy believes medical innovation is our best pathway forward towards new cures and treatments. “Myself and millions of others, need to know that there are revolutionary treatments and tools available to help us fight disease and embrace an intense hope for our future and the future of our families.”
By coming together, patients, caregivers and their families will have a stronger, unified voice. Amy’s story – like so many others – is a rallying cry for all of us. “Innovation is hope” she says. “And the last thing you want to lose is hope.”
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.