Nearly a decade ago, Clinton Crawley, a Baltimore resident and one of my constituents, was diagnosed with diabetes. Clinton has done everything his doctors asked—he eats well, he exercises and he takes his medication. Although Clinton has employer-sponsored health insurance, the cost of his medication—more than $1,000 each year—places a significant burden on his finances.
Mr. Crawley is not alone. Over the past decade, 90 percent of brand name drugs have more than doubled in price. In 2014, U.S. prescription drug prices jumped 13 percent. That year, Americans spent $1,112 per person on medication while Canadians spent $772 and Danes spent $325, and nearly 1 in 5 Americans have reported not being able to afford the medication they were prescribed. Simply put, the pharmaceutical industry’s greed is hurting the American people.
The issue of high prescription drug prices has a severe impact on the African American community. As the saying goes, “when America catches a cold, Black America gets the flu.” African Americans suffer from chronic diseases at higher rates than other groups. African Americans are 40 percent more likely than Caucasians to have high blood pressure, and the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 77 percent higher in our community. In 2014, African Americans were nearly three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than Caucasians. African Americans at every education level are also paid less than their white counterparts. These factors place African Americans in a double bind—we are more likely to suffer from an expensive chronic disease and we earn less money with which to pay for our health care, including skyrocketing prescription drug prices. (Black Press USA)