Family encouraged by statewide prescription drug affordability board proposal

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The price of prescription drugs is growing out of reach for more and more Pennsylvanians, and state lawmakers are trying to help out.

“They said 700 and something dollars, and I’m like, ‘Woah! Woah! Woah!” said Bill Leachman, of Mechanicsburg. “It’s like, ‘Well, can we get this or do we buy some groceries? What do we do here?'”

Seven hundred dollars for a medication Leachman’s son, William, has been on for months and usually costs them about $15 out of pocket. Their insurance company now wants William on something cheaper.

Leachman and his son were on hand Monday at the Capitol during the announcement of new legislation that would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board with statewide oversight.

Leachman says they’ve never worried about health care before but feel the insurance company is playing games.

“The one thing I need the most is insulin to stay alive,” the younger Leachman said.

Pittsburgh-area Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) introduced the proposal and said the board would be similar to Pennsylvania’s Public Utilities Commission, working to set limits on drug costs and keep tabs on pharmaceutical companies.

“Pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to set their own prices without state oversight,” Frankel said. “The prices for brand name drugs are increasing year over year, well beyond inflation.”

Switching medications to the one insurance will cover isn’t something the Leachman family wants to do.

“Him changing medications, there’s a lot of things that could happen where his numbers bottom out,” Leachman said. “There’s insulin and there are things that he needs that he has to have or he’ll die.”

William, diagnosed in October with type I diabetes, hopes speaking up helps other families living with the condition.

“I hope there’s a cure and in the meantime that the government can help lower the cost,” Leachman said.

Frankel shared that one in five Pennsylvanians don’t fill prescriptions due to cost, and that one in six skip doses or cut pills in half so they last longer.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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