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According to a newly released survey, Oregonians are very concerned about prescription drug costs and want their lawmakers to fix the problem. Almost half (49 percent) of the 900 Oregon adults who Altarum polled earlier this spring for its Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey (CHESS) reported being either “somewhat worried” or “very worried” about being able to afford their medications.
“Anecdotally, we’ve known for a long time that Oregonians overwhelmingly support reining in the high cost of prescription drugs,” said Charlie Fisher, the director of OSPIRG, a statewide consumer group, “This survey provides statistical confirmation. Now, it’s time for the legislature to listen to the public and take action to address high drug costs.”
State lawmakers are currently considering Senate Bill 844, which would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) to examine the evidence and establish acceptable costs for drugs. In the survey, 85 percent of Oregonians across party lines expressed support for creating a PDAB, including overwhelming majorities of Democratic (91 percent), Independent (85 percent) and Republican (74 percent) voters.
“In my clinical experience, I see too many patients stressing about the cost of their medication, or even choosing to ration it or skip it altogether. These data show how widespread those experiences are, and how critical it is that we act now to control spending on prescription drugs for our constituents,” said the bill’s House chief sponsor, Health Committee Chair Rachel Prusak, a nurse practitioner. “This is clearly a priority for Oregonians, and we need to pass Prescription Drug Affordability Board to show this is a serious priority for us too. Medicines don’t work if you can’t afford them.”
Survey results show that many Oregonians experienced hardship in the past year because of high prescription drug prices. One in four Oregon adults (26 percent) did not refill a prescription, cut pills in half or skipped a dose of medicine because of cost concerns.
These types of hardships disproportionately impact lower-income families. Households making less than $75,000 per year are much more likely to have rationed their prescription medicines than households making more than $75,000 per year.
“Over the past 30 years of working in nonprofit healthcare and with faith communities, I have seen growing numbers of people struggle to afford their medications,” said State Sen. Deb Patterson, a chief sponsor of the bill and the chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, “States have been waiting for the federal government to take action on this issue. It is clear however, given the volume of state legislation across the country this year, that Americans are no longer willing to wait for affordable, accessible healthcare. Addressing rising pharmaceutical drug costs, which are the fastest-growing segment of spiraling healthcare expenditures, is an urgent matter.”
This survey is part of the Oregon Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey. It is available here: https://www.healthcarevaluehub.org/advocate-resources/consumer-healthcare-experience-state-survey/oregon-consumer-healthcare-experience-state-survey
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