August 22, 2019 In The News, Media

Rep. Norcross: High cost of prescription drugs is ‘unacceptable’

Burlington County Times
August 22, 2019

Americans from all walks of life have become all too familiar with the sting of high prescription drug prices, but perhaps none more than people with diabetes.

People like Hayley Shiroff.

The 18-year-old Voorhees teen was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 12 after her family found her unconscious in her bathroom. She wound up spending four days in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

She now takes insulin daily to keep her blood sugars in check. It’s life-saving medicine, but it’s also costly. This year, her family hit their annual deductible of $6,000 by May and a prior attempt by their insurer to force her to use a less expensive brand also created problems.

″[A new insurance provider] refused to give me the same medication I had been on since it was too expensive. They gave me an off-brand of insulin instead and it didn’t work as well,” Shiroff said Wednesday during a roundtable talk about the issue at the William Rohrer Memorial Library in Haddon Township, Camden County.

“My blood sugar was continuously rising and rising. We didn’t know what to do. When we switched back to the proper medication, it worked. They aren’t all equal,” she said.

Stories like Shiroff’s are far from the exception, according to U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, who hosted the roundtable as part of his efforts to draw attention to the issue of high prescription drug prices and what Congress can do to address the problem. He said the status quo of people rationing their medication was “simply unacceptable.”

“This issue is an everyday issue affecting virtually every man, woman and child in the United States,” Norcross said during a Tuesday news conference at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Camden with advocates from the progressive group, New Jersey Citizen Action.

“The cost has been increasing at an alarming rate, particularly in the last 10 years. [People] are having to make those unbelievable decisions that nobody should have to face. Is it food, or pills. Is it rent or is it my medicine? That’s not the country we live in,” he added.

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