Skyrocketing drug costs stump insurers, Oregon lawmakers

by Saerom Yoo,
Statesman Journal. March 28, 2015

Sarah Truman pays more than $3,000 per month out of pocket for the medications that alleviate her psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis symptoms enough to allow her to work and live a normal life.

Jim Huls is a multiple myeloma patient who has maxed out two credit cards and lost his home to the bank while trying to balance his medical and pharmaceutical bills.

Both are Oregonians who are appealing to state lawmakers to do something about the rising costs of prescription drugs.

Drug prices have been going up for a long time. However, in 2014 drug spending rose 13.1 percent — the largest annual increase since 2003, according to a report by Express Scripts. Specialty drugs, such as those taken by Truman, largely drove the increases.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Harvoni, a $1,125-per-tablet drug for hepatitis C patients. An estimated 3 million Americans have hepatitis C, according to Express Scripts. It is drug prices such as Harvoni's that have policymakers, patients and health plans on alert.