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Congresswoman DeLauro warns about jump in drug prices

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A local lawmaker is warning about a possible jump in prescription drug prices. It’s all because of the re-vamped NAFTA, the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada negotiated by the Trump administration.

Some of the patients at Yale’s Smilow Cancer Center depend on a class of drugs called biologics. They are already expensive. This new trade agreement could drive up prices even more.

Wording in the new version of NAFTA would guarantee at least 10 years of market exclusivity for companies making these biologics. That would mean no competition, and there would be no generics offered for a decade.

If you’re not familiar with those kinds of drugs, biologics use actual living organisms in them. Prices range from $20,000 per drug per patient to $850,000 per drug per patient. 

Greta Stifel is a patient advocate and a patient at Smilow, and she has been on biologics in the past to fight her cancer.

“And I cannot begin to tell you what I have been through in 3 years of having this cancer,” Stifel said. “The last thing that I need to worry about or be concerned about is how I am going to pay for a drug that will help me keep alive.”

She told her story to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D – 3rd District) who is against the market exclusivity provision in the new NAFTA. She calls it a special interest giveaway. A Yale Law Professor was there too, and she said this would not only make prescription drug prices higher in the US, but would also export those price problems to Canada and Mexico, the other countries in NAFTA.

Several democrats are speaking out against this provision, which is exactly the opposite of what the Trump administration is looking for. They specifically tailored the NAFTA replacement to appeal to Democrats with all kinds of things designed to improve conditions for factory workers. 

DeLauro says the only solution is to re-open negotiations and get that wording changed in this new NAFTA deal. 

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