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A Tradeoff Cancer Patients Can’t Afford

Prescription price setting laws could reduce the number of new treatments

By Leslie Peek, May 13, 2022 11:06 am

As a mother of two young boys, and living with stage four colon cancer, the most important thing for me right now is spending as much time as I can with my husband and sons. I was diagnosed with colon cancer at 42 years old, and the news came out of nowhere. I had no history of cancer in my family, and no reason to believe something was wrong with me apart from the anemia my doctors were looking into. I was an athletic, healthy, and a practicing nurse at the time. When my doctor told me I had stage four colon cancer, I was devastated.  

So many questions ran through my mind. How could I not have caught this earlier? Does this mean I will miss my boys’ wedding days? Their graduations? What are the survival rates? What treatments do I have access to? 

I searched for answers. 

Leslie Peek is a retired nurse and stay-at-home mom. She resides in Reno.(Photo: Leslie Peek)

Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. By 2030, it is predicted that colon cancer will be the number one cause of deaths in 20 to 40-year-olds. Nevada has uncharacteristically high colon cancer mortality compared to other Western states, and access to screening is more challenging for residents in rural areas. 

Now more than ever, research is needed to uncover how this cancer is growing find new ways we can prevent this often fatal diagnosis. 

As a nurse, I’ve witnessed how scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and cancer treatment specialists are working every day to uncover better, less disruptive treatments to cancer patients. With the right support, I know the day will come when we find a cure for this awful disease that affects so many.

But scientific progress will only continue as long as we support research efforts. That’s why I believe it’s important to speak out against legislation that could hurt patient access to new treatments. Price setting policies are a prime example.

Allowing the government to set the prices of medications is being framed by some in Washington, DC as a valiant effort to reduce patient costs. The major problem here, is that these policies could ultimately harm that very patients they are trying to help. 

Measures that expand the government’s role in health care can complicate the system and reduce incentives for biopharmaceutical R&D. By tampering with the market and dictating access to certain medications, patients’ lives may be at risk. It has been found that price setting policies, could also disproportionately impact new treatments for rare diseases, oncology, and neurology. Experts, including the independent Congressional Budget Office, have found that prescription price setting laws could reduce the number of new treatments that make it to American patients.

For myself and the many cancer patients in Nevada and across the country, this is a tradeoff we can’t afford. As Congress tries to balance the many legislative priorities in the coming months, I hope our elected officials in Carson and in Congress don’t cut corners in their well-intended, but possibly short-sighted efforts to lower costs prescription drug costs. 

I’m not the only Nevadan who wants to outlive their kids.  

Editors Note: The Globe will pray for Leslie and her family as she continues her fight. We are rooting for you Leslie!

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