DENVER (KDVR) — Two years ago, a Prescription Drug Affordability Board was established in Colorado. The review board just met Friday to decide which prescription drugs it should review to cap prices. Some users of the drugs say that could lead to an uncertain future of medicine in Colorado.
Five drugs were chosen for review by the board: Enbrel, Genvoya, Cosentyx, Stelara and Trikafta.
A Colorado woman who uses one of the drugs is urging the board to use caution as they review it.
Hannah Pfieffer is an area teacher who’s been dealing with cystic fibrosis since she was a baby.
“I was very, very sick. I was oxygen-dependent. I was on oxygen 24/7,” Pfieffer recalled. “I was evaluated for a lung transplant at the University of Duke and Colorado University at Anschutz. So I was waiting on that news but also just struggling with daily life. Wearing oxygen but also tired out after daily activities such as grocery shopping and making my bed. Then in the fall of 2019, Trikafta was introduced to the market,” Pfieffer said.
She said her lung function increased by 13% after getting on the medication, making life a little easier. Pfieffer said lower prices for the drug are good but she is concerned about the deal-making process needed to achieve a lower price tag.
“I think our biggest concern with this board and selecting Trikafta is what is the guarantee that we can access this drug in Colorado. If this does get reviewed, we would need the drug distributor, the company and Colorado to all agree on that price, or else we risk losing access in Colorado if they chose not to distribute or sell the drug in Colorado,” Pfieffer said.
Pfieffer said her concern is centered around making sure access to the drug does not go away as the process plays out.
“So I hope that they do the right things and if it does get reviewed hopefully they go about in way that we would never lose access to this medication as we could revert back to oxygen and transplants very, very quickly,” Pfieffer said.
Other patients testified before the board Friday with that same concern but the board still ultimately decided to review it. Its next meeting is set for October.
Not all the drugs under review will be deemed unaffordable; the board is not required to set an upper payment limit.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Insurance noted: “If a UPL is set, the exact amount of the upper payment limit must consider the cost of administering, dispensing, and distributing the drug, among other criteria laid out in statute and regulation. There will be numerous public comment opportunities for any interested or affected parties to inform the Board of their opinions, and we encourage people to make their thoughts known in those forums. Board staff are available to meet with stakeholders outside of these formal channels.”