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110: P4AD’s David Mitchell on Drug Pricing and Living with Incurable Cancer

Uninvisible Pod

110: P4AD’s David Mitchell on Drug Pricing and Living with Incurable Cancer

David Mitchell has an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. The price of his current drugs is more than $875,000 per year. Like millions of Americans, David needs innovation and new drugs to survive,…
January 6, 2021
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110: P4AD’s David Mitchell on Drug Pricing and Living with Incurable Cancer

David Mitchell has an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. The price of his current drugs is more than $875,000 per year. Like millions of Americans, David needs innovation and new drugs to survive, but he believes drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. After more than 30 years at a D.C. policy and communications firm, he retired in December 2016 to devote his full energy to helping change policy to lower prescription drug prices. Patients For Affordable Drugs mobilizes patients and allies at the federal and state levels and does not accept funding from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs. It is one of our favorite organizations, and the only one of its kind on the Hill doing this work without the funding of big pharma. Leveraging the power of patient stories, P4AD works on a bipartisan level to create policy change in favor of reduced drug pricing and eased accessibility to necessary medications and treatments. Their work is remarkable, and we are proud to have their founder on the show!

Tune in as David shares:

  • how he was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma after experiencing severe back pain
  • that he’s been on maintenance drugs continuously for the past 10 years — and these drugs are what have kept him alive
  • that at the time of his diagnosis, the median age of survival for his form of cancer was 3-5 years; that has now increased to 8-10 years
  • that myeloma mutates and finds its way around drugs — so when treatments stop working, patients typically pass
  • that he plans to live to 95 and die of something else entirely
  • that the disadvantageous side-effects of his drugs are manageable in comparison to the cancer itself
  • how his wife stepped up as a fearless advocate for him until she herself endured breast cancer and its accompanying treatments (she’s a survivor!), and he stepped up for her
  • his belief that no cancer patient should endure the “acute” stages of diagnosis and treatment alone
  • the importance of looking after his physical and emotional health, and why it’s vital his work be meaningful
  • what P4AD does: how they help patients share their stories and are creating communities among these patients
  • that P4AD not only engages patients, but patients are also among their staff
  • that there is no free market for drugs, and that drug companies have created monopolies to set drug prices and protect those monopolies in whatever way they wish
  • that pharma invents groups akin to P4AD, including Patients Rising and the Alliance for Pharmaceutical Access
  • how insurance and drug companies monopolize pricing and gouge patients
  • where he sees the breakdown of the medical system in the US: that it’s systematically designed without the patient’s access to affordable, comprehensive care in mind
  • an acknowledgement of systemic racism in medicine
  • that he is also a recovering alcoholic — and has been for 30 years
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