HEALTH ACCESS ALERT
Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

OVER 2.5 MILLION CALIFORNIA FAMILIES DON’T FILL PRESCRIPTIONS DUE TO COST

  • Every 12 seconds, another California family can’t afford to get prescribed medications
  • Yes on 79 “Drive for Discount Drugs” ambulance tour highlights problem & solution
  • VOTE TUESDAY, November 8th: NO on 76 & 78; YES on 79

To emphasize the urgent need for reining in high drug prices with enforceable discounts, the consumer, senior, and health groups sponsoring Proposition 79 kicked off the Drive for Discount Drugs, a statewide ambulance tour that will visit over 10 cities in less than a week, including San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Sacramento, Salinas, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and San Diego. For a running blog with commentary and photos from the road trip, visit the Yes on 79 blog, at:
http://www.VoteYesOnProp79.org/blog.htm

MILLIONS HURT BY HIGH DRUG COSTS: The Drive for Discount Drugs features an electronic counter on top of the ambulance, which tallies a running count of the number of California families hurt by high prescription drug prices. It is estimated that over 2.5 million California households didn’t fill a prescription in the past year because they couldn’t afford to do so, based on data from a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Every 12 seconds, the counter ticks off another family that has found needed prescriptions too expensive to take.

An August 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 20 percent of Americans report that they or someone in their household did not fill a prescription because of the price. Nearly a quarter reported that a member of their household failed to fill a prescription, cut pills, or split doses in the past year because of the price. Over half of those who did without medication or took less than prescribed saw their health conditions worsen as a result. (See fact sheet, BELOW.)

PROPOSITION 79: As a solution to this problem, Prop. 79 provides discounts on prescription drugs to low and moderate income Californians who are uninsured or underinsured. It would do so by building on the success California has already achieved negotiating drug discounts for patients covered by Medi-Cal. California currently uses its massive purchasing power to secure deep discounts for Medi-Cal patients, saving taxpayers $510 million in the last fiscal year alone.

Prop. 79 enables California to use this same leverage to negotiate discounts for the estimated 8 to 10 million Californians who cannot afford to pay high retail prices for prescription drugs. The measure allows California to shift its drug purchasing business away from companies that refuse to provide acceptable discounts to those who will just as the state does now through the Medi-Cal program.

Current state rules that ensure that Medi-Cal patients get the drugs they need would remain in effect under Prop. 79. Californians eligible for the program created by Prop. 79 would get a drug discount card to present to their pharmacist to receive discounts of 50 percent or more.
SUPPORT: Prop. 79 is supported by AARP California, Consumers Union, League of Women Voters of California, Health Access California, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Breast Cancer Action and over 150 other consumer, senior, health, and community groups. It also enjoys the support of a number of California ’s top elected officials, including Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

For more information and to join in support, visit the Yes on 79 website, at:
http://cu.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=79_CaliforniansEndorse79

Pass this E-mail onto your friends and colleagues. The polls shows that many California voters are still undecided, and give Proposition 79 a chance to win! For an amusing look at the camapign, visit:
www.dontbelievetheirlies.com

DRUG COMPANY OPPOSITION: The pharmaceutical industry lobby has raised over $80 million to try to defeat Prop. 79 and promote Prop. 78, a discount program that is completely optional for drug companies. The drug industry’s voluntary program covers half as many Californians as Prop. 79 and could end at any time if not enough companies offer to participate.

For fact checks on the drug companies commercials, please visit the Yes on 79 website, at:
http://www.voteyeson79.org/ads.htm

Say NO to 78 & Drug Companies’ Unfair Prices
Vote YES on 79 & Cheaper Drugs More Californians Can Count On

HEALTH ACCESS FACT SHEET: PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES
OVER 2.5 MILLION CALIFORNIA FAMILIES DON’T FILL PRESCRIPTIONS DUE TO COST

  • Every 12 seconds, another California family can’t afford to get prescribed medications
  • One in five (20%) families didn’t fill a prescription because of the cost in the past year, according to a recent August 2005 Health Care Costs Survey of the Kaiser Family Foundation, USA Today, and the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Nearly one quarter (24%) reported that “they or someone in their household did not fill a prescription, cut pills, or skipped doses in the past year because of the cost.” It is much more likely (up to 36%) if there is a chronic condition or disability in the household.
  • In a given year, 2,565,000 out of 12,826,000 California families didn’t fill a prescription because of a cost.(36,810,000 million people in California according to the U.S. Census, divided by average household size of 2.87.)
  • Every 12 seconds, another California family decides not to fill a prescription because of the cost.
  • More than half of these families (54%) reported that the condition got worse as a result, according to the same survey.
  • Over 51% of respondents take prescription medicine on a daily basis. Of those who take prescription drugs on a daily basis, 75% take more than one, and 27% take four or more. Of these daily prescriptions, 34% state that it is difficult for them or a family member to pay for prescription medicines that they need.
  • Of all respondents, 62% reported they were “very or somewhat worried” that they “won’t be able to afford the prescription drugs” they need.

Other surveys confirm the scale of the problem:

  • One quarter of seniors (26.3%) nationwide reported foregoing prescription medications in the past year because of cost, according to a recent Health Affairs article, April 19, 2005. This percentage was higher for those seniors without prescription drug coverage (36.8%), who were low-income (35.2%), or who had complex chronic conditions (34.9%).
  • Almost one in every three patients reported having taken a prescription medication less often than prescribed during the previous 12 months,” according to a Boston Consulting Group survey with Harris Interactive reported in December 2003.

Other statistics highlight the consequences of patients not filling prescriptions:

  • While not the only reason, the cost of prescription medicines is a leading factor in why patients don’t take prescribed medicine as directed, an issue called “patient noncompliance” that has repercussions for both patients and the health system on which we all rely:
  • The BCG report states that “missed doses often lead to greater health problems down the road as untreated or undertreated conditions worsen or complications arise. Such problems, in turn, lead to higher health care costs. Some studies estimate that the price of compliance problems—including the cost of resulting admissions to hospitals and nursing homes, and of lost productivity—is as high as $100 billion” nationally.
  • Patient noncompliance with drug treatments “annually contributes to 125,000 deaths and up to 20% of all hospital and nursing home admissions,” according to a Cutting Edge Information report in November 2004. It also states that “20% of new prescriptions going unfilled and 85% of prescriptions never getting refilled… it is estimated that the total number of prescriptions that go unfilled account for $77 billion in excess healthcare costs each year.”
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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