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Pharmaceutical companies are working every day around the clock to find new treatments and cures for societyandrsquo;s greatest health problems. We understand that there is nothing more precious than your health and the health of loved ones, we have families too. Access to medicine and prescription drugs are essential for the health of many Americans who would be in far worse shape without them.
If you read only read about the industry from various press accounts, however, you might mistakenly come away with the belief that Americaandrsquo;s pharmaceutical research companies only lobby and create advertisements. Nothing could be farther from the truth. West Virginians are reviewing the issues surrounding the access and affordability of prescription medicines. These medicines are important elements of what makes up modern healthcare and yes, there are some among us who need help affording these treatments. America is the worldandrsquo;s leader in developing new medicines, but pharmaceutical companies know it is not enough to find and develop new medicines andndash; as hard as that job may be. We must also help those in need afford them too. You should know the facts: Prescription drug spending is just over 10 percent of all healthcare spending. Elected officials looking to save money on healthcare tend to focus on prescription drugs but how can serious reductions in total healthcare spending be made when you narrow your focus to 10.5 percent of spending? andnbsp;The appropriate use of prescription drugs helps lower overall healthcare spending. This is just common sense: It is far cheaper and leads to better healthcare to prevent heart attacks and strokes, for example, through the appropriate use of medicines than it is to pay for the in-hospital treatments including surgeries and rehabilitation that will likely come when medicines are denied. andnbsp;There are a considerable number of programs available today to help those in need with their drug costs, programs that have received little attention by the media. There are more than 475 public and private programs available to help the uninsured or those with low-incomes. RxforWV (rxforwv.org or 1-877-WVA-Rx4u) has matched more than 43,822 West Virginians to programs offering discounted or even free medicines to help them live their lives. Additionally, the prescription drug industry provided $55 million dollars worth of products to West Virginia’s free clinics between 2004 and 2005, including the Charleston based Health Right clinic at no cost, helping more than 49,000 West Virginians receive the prescription drugs they need. The fundamental problems plaguing West Virginia healthcare are far broader than issues surrounding prescription drug coverage. They include improving access to health insurance for the more than 270,000 uninsured andndash; about 16 percent of the stateandrsquo;s population andndash; because you cannot get a medicine if you canandrsquo;t see a doctor to get the prescription in the first place. The state needs to continue with its emerging efforts to address the core health problems of obesity andndash; across all age groups andndash; and the need for better health education. West Virginia is to be applauded for recognizing that it must improve the quality of its community health.We want to help the stateandrsquo;s leadership address these issues and do more. Weandrsquo;ve extended that offer of cooperation to Scott Brown, the State’s Pharmaceutical Advocate, Martha Walker, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, the Pharmaceutical Cost Management Council and Governor Manchin. Despite the rhetoric of some, it does not have to be — nor should it be — the political leaders of West Virginia fighting Americaandrsquo;s pharmaceutical companies. We must cooperate and find ways to meet the shared goals of improving access to medicines. PhRMA is committed to working with the state, doing so in a way that public policies arenandrsquo;t put in place that limit access to medicines through bureaucratic means or worse, chill the future search for cures and treatments. These goals are not mutually exclusive and should not be thought of so.