Bridgeton News

Van Drew Talks Drug Prescription Bill

Bridgeton News — Tuesday, October 14, 2003

By MATTHEW RALPH
Staff Writer

MILLVILLE — Bridget Devane, a NJ Citizen Action organizer who is making the rounds asking legislators to sign a "Just Say No to Drug Money" pledge refusing campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies, made a stop at Riverview East early Monday morning.

Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-1, who introduced the New Jersey Fair Market Drug Pricing Act last spring, spoke briefly to residents about the prescription drugs pricing issue before signing the pledge.

Van Drew told residents that the bill would establish an Rx Card Program where senior citizens and middle class working people who don't qualify for any other prescription aid programs would receive discounts on prescriptions. Negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies on receiving rebates for the state would fund the discounts, he said. The discounts would not come from additional casino revenues or taxpayer monies.

"The costs of prescription medications are out of control," Van Drew said. "Rising twice as fast as the rate of inflation. Currently there are hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents who do not have insurance to cover their medication costs. These individuals are being hit hard and some either go without medications that would be essential to their well-being, or go without food, it is simply not acceptable."

Van Drew also noted that pharmaceutical companies charge much higher for medication in the United States than they do in Canada and other countries. "The pharmaceutical companies are making higher profits than ever," Van Drew said. "We are not against them making profits. We just think the wealth should be spread."

New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), a citizen watchdog coalition, released a report in September on pharmaceutical campaign spending in the state. According to the report, drug companies have given $1.9 million to elected officials, candidates and political party organizations since 1999.

"We have asked candidates during this important election year to guarantee that as elected officials, they will protect the interests of their constituents who vote for them," Devane said. "The drug industry money taking habit has gone on too long and can be broken if candidates choose to stop taking drug money."

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