Gillibrand talks solutions to drug problems in Canandaigua

Chris Dailey, director of pharmacy at UR Medicine Thompson Health, sees it every day: Patients can’t afford their medication.

Costs for some prescription drugs have escalated 30 percent or more in recent years, said Dailey, who spoke during a visit by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at Thompson’s Ferris Hills at West Lake senior living community on Monday. He gave examples of various drugs and their jump in price that have made them unaffordable. Patients carry around an expired Epipen or stop taking their medication, said Dailey.

Ellie Fralick, a former Thompson board member, also spoke about the cost of drugs, as did Canandaigua resident Janet Mamula, who shared her own experience.

Gillibrand was at Ferris Hills to talk about proposed legislation aimed at holding drug companies accountable with tough penalties when they spike the price. In January 2017, median prices for prescription medications increased by an average of nearly 9 percent, about four times higher than the overall inflation rate, forcing many seniors living on a fixed income to consider going without their medication, said Gillibrand.

The proposed Stop Price Gouging Act would penalize pharmaceutical companies that engage in price gouging without cause, which leads to price spikes for patients who rely on medication to treat diseases ranging from cancer to opioid addiction, said the senator, a Democrat. The bill is co-sponsored by a number of U.S. senators, all Democrats: Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; Tom Udall of New Mexico; and Richard Durbin of Illinois.

“We believe in capitalism but we don’t support unchecked capitalism and greed,” said Gillibrand before a room full of seniors and a number of employees and executives of UR Medicine Thompson Health. Those in attendance included community members, Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni and former Thompson chief executive officer, Linda Farchione Hawks.

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