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Oregonians Warned About Fake Patient Group Deceiving Citizens

A bill in the Oregon State Legislature would require companies to explain prescription drug price jumps of more than 10 percent. (ccPixs.com/Flickr)
A bill in the Oregon State Legislature would require companies to explain prescription drug price jumps of more than 10 percent. (ccPixs.com/Flickr)
February 21, 2018

SALEM, Ore. – Oregonians are being warned about a group that is using what’s called deceptive practices to oppose a prescription drug-pricing bill in the State Legislature.

The Register-Guard in Eugene has revealed the group Caregiver Voices United is funded by the pharmaceutical drug industry.

It was also revealed the group sends scripts to their subcontractors instructing them to say they are reaching out to "protect patients' rights."

The group then crafts personalized letters to send to Oregon legislators on people's behalf, urging lawmakers to oppose House Bill 4005.

Jon Bartholomew is the government relations director for AARP Oregon, one of the organizations warning people about this group.

"If somebody gets a call from Caregiver Voices United, we urge people to understand this is not a real, grassroots consumer organization,” he states. “This is basically an organization that is funded by the pharmaceutical industry to support their causes."

HB 4005 requires drug manufacturers to explain cost increases of more than 10 percent, but wouldn't impose any price controls.

It would also require these companies to list drug prices in other countries and other costs involved in manufacturing the drug, such as research and marketing.

Drug companies say the transparency requirements are too hard to meet.

Caregiver Voices United did not respond to a request for comment.

Bartholomew says AARP hears about the rising cost of prescription drugs more than any other issue.

"We hear about people who will split their medication in half to be able to afford it,” he relates. “We hear people who will skip doses so they can afford it. We hear people who will just not go on the drug because they have to choose between paying their heating bill or paying for their medication."

Bartholomew has some tips for people who get an unwanted call from Caregiver Voices United. He suggests they ask for a manager, ask how the group is funded and to refuse to give out any personal information to the caller.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR