Breaking News
More () »

Some Va. doctors advocate for legislative push to lower cost of prescription drugs

"The stakes are high for these patients and their families," said pain management physiatrist Dr. Rommaan Ahmad.

VIRGINIA, USA — A group of Virginia doctors want state lawmakers to act on a bill that pushes for lower costs of prescription drugs.

Medical professionals advocating for its passage said in a virtual news conference Wednesday far too many of their patients are forced to ration pills or not buy the medicine they need at all.

Depending on who you ask, the price for a prescription ranges.

"Most of them are fairly inexpensive, but there are some that are pretty expensive," said Hampton Roads local Susan Vannice, who told 13News Now she paid less than $5 on a prescription Wednesday.

However, Vannice mentioned a type of generic medicine that costs her close $100 co-pay. 

"Even with insurance, it's probably $100 to $200 a month," said Anthony, a Hampton Roads resident who only wanted to go by his first name. 

As for those prescribing the medicine, some are raising concerns about troubling trends they are noticing.

"Too often, I hear my patients tell me the medication work and are effective, but they can't afford them," said Dr. Rommaan Ahmad, a pain management physiatrist and Virginia lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care.

"While my patients are being forced to skip medications, and inherently, put their lives at risk, pharmaceutical corporations continue to rake in massive profits," said Dr. Anurag Sahu, a cardiovascular disease specialist. 

These doctors listed patients with asthma, diabetes, heart problems and HIV just among some of the groups they worry about.

"I also have several patients, who report they struggle with side effects of generic medicines they need for their mental health because the brand-name version is either too expensive or not covered by their insurance, at all," said primary care physician Dr. Micha Joffee. 

The price for more than 1,200 prescription drugs went up from July 2021 to July 2022, according to a U.S Department of Health and Human Services report. Officials estimate the average price increase for those medicines at 31.6%, whereas the rate of inflation was just at 8.5% during that time span.

"These stories are all too common, and the statistics are sobering," said Joffee.  

Medical professionals, like Joffee, Sahu and Ahmad, are part of a coalition of Virginia doctors asking for Senate Bill 957 to move along in the General Assembly.

If ultimately given the green light, the legislation would form a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The five-member expert panel would, in part, cap prices on some medications, demand companies to lower costs and call for drug price transparency.

"The stakes are high for these patients and their families," said Dr. Ahmad.

Currently, the bill's patrons are all Democrats. However, proponents are calling for bipartisan support on the measure.

They expect Virginia state senators to decide on the legislation's fate on Friday.

Before You Leave, Check This Out