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Brooklyn Pharmacy hosts Senator Wyden's discussion about the state of drug prices these days

RITA A. LEONARD - At the Brooklyn Pharmacy appearance March 18 on the subject of drug pricing were, from left: Fran Zimmerman-Kamn, Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Director of AARP Ruby Haughton-Pitts, and the owner of the historic Brooklyn drug store, pharmacist Pat Hubbell. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden came to Inner Southeast Portland on Monday, March 18, for a public press event on the subject of the cost of pharmaceuticals. Presumably, he chose as his venue the Brooklyn Pharmacy – on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, a half block south of Powell Boulevard – because of the store's reputation for low prices on drugs, as cited in the Portland Tribune and elsewhere.

The pharmacy's owner, Pat Hubbell, joined him at the podium, along with Ruby Haughton-Pitts, who is Oregon State Director of AARP, as well as former Brooklyn resident Fran Zimmerman-Kamn, who requires insulin for her health.

Wyden said there is too much price-gouging of patients of all ages. "Our entire supply chain is broken," he said. "We can't find out what 'list prices' really are, as they are cheaper in other countries.

"Drug prices are hitting our patients like a wrecking ball. Bonuses to 'Big Pharma' executives are tied to drug prices going up," he charged. "They're 'doing it because they can'; Congress has not prevented it. Consequently, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and I are working to get a bipartisan bill out of the Senate to address the problem."

Ruby Haughton-Pitts was next to speak: "We're calling on Congress to step in and work against price gouging. Currently there are seven pieces of legislation going through the Oregon State Legislature on the subject. People need to get involved, to help make prescription drugs more affordable."

Last at the podium was Milwaukie resident Fran Zimmerman-Kamn, who requires regular doses of insulin. "The medicine costs me about $400 per month, while it's made for only about $3," she believed. Sen. Wyden chimed in, "Insulin costs have increased 13-fold in recent years, and profits are going to the middlemen. Medical costs are requiring many patients to have to choose between pharmaceuticals and basic living expenses, such as food and rent. Patients are the face of this outrage."

Following a Q & A session, Wyden concluded, "Affordable medicine is everybody's concern. I've been getting into every nook and cranny for opinions, and just finished meetings across the state. I really admire community journalism that focuses on what the neighborhood cares about. I enjoy reading my copy of THE BEE when it arrives every month."


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