You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Universal Access To Affordable Medicine.
Before we dive in, consider this my requisite plug for the need to achieve universal, single-payer healthcare. In the meantime, there *is* work to be done to help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life.
Prescription medications are one of the most expensive parts of healthcare — even for people with insurance. Pharmaceutical companies already enjoy the profit-boosting privilege of lengthy patents before generic versions can be developed and sold. Originally, this was designed to help research institutions and companies recoup the millions it can cost to create a drug, thus making it less risky to fail now and again and somewhat profitable to manufacture medications for uncommon ailments. Like everything else, however, corporate greed has turned a well-intentioned fail safe into a way to injure anyone who isn’t rich.
The leaked language in the Trans Pacific Partnership indicates that its passage would likely intensify this injustice. According to Doctors Without Borders, "aggressive intellectual property rules...would restrict access to affordable, lifesaving medicines for millions of people” by enhancing patent and data protections while dismantling international public health safeguards and obstructing price-lowering generic competition.
In short: we need an international movement supporting medication access and we need it now.
The Access Our Medicine Initiative - which is supported by the prescription assistance non-profit NeedyMeds - is working to make affordable medicine a priority in the UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals currently being discussed. These discussions set international cooperative priorities for the next 15 years — kind of a big deal. The "Access Our Medicine” Declaration has already garnered the signed, visible support of individual doctors, famous advocates, and organizations like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the MS International Foundation and more. What they need now is a groundswell of support from us.
You can sign the declaration at AccessOurMedicine.com. While you’re there, take advantage of their cache of stories from real people, easily shareable facts like "1/3 of Americans with a chronic disease has difficulty paying for food, medications or both,” and well-curated media page. After you add your name, let people know why this issue matters by sharing it with the hashtag #WhyISigned.
For immediate help paying for medications, visit NeedyMeds.org and click on their Generic Assistance Program; they offer 20 generics medications for no cost in coordination with Rx Outreach, the largest non-profit pharmacy in the country. And if you aren’t in need, pass information on the program around; you never know who in your network might.
"What the Affordable Care Act Means for Prescription Coverage” via The Washington Post
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #936 "Drugged and broke (Health Care)"
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich