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As a student in a nursing program, I see the power of medicine almost every day. I believe that everyone should be able to afford life-saving prescriptions without having to go into debt or go without. Unfortunately, most patients are tackling rising prescription drug costs that hinder these Americans from following doctor’s orders due to not being able to pay for treatment that they desperately need. Since 2014, drug prices have risen by 33%, and, in America, drug companies can pretty much set whatever price the market will bear.

Lowering drug prices has been universally desired by Americans throughout my lifetime, and there is proposed legislation that would authorize Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for fair drug prices and unclench some of the grip that these companies have on Americans. This bill, the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, would end price gouging and lessen the role of Big Pharma in politics, but, like so much policy that threatens their profits, it’s unlikely to pass. This industry spends over $500 million annually to lobby our members of Congress, promoting their interests and undermining those of working people.

Even if this legislation passes, it would not eliminate the power that these companies have on our democracy. Big Pharma will continue to funnel millions of dollars to Republicans and Democrats alike, influencing their votes while diluting their constituents’ voices. Right now, it is legal to pump millions of dollars into elections without disclosing where the money comes from. West Virginia has seen the outcome of dark money and Big Pharma’s influence on politics with the opioid epidemic that has destroyed far too many of our loved ones and our communities. We need to make a stand and pass common-sense legislation, like Sen. Joe Manchin’s Freedom to Vote Act, that will put an end to dark money that influences politicians’ votes in Congress.

Seth Graybill

Huntington

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