Our new organization, People of Faith for Access to Medicines (PFAM) is building a faith-based movement pushing to make access to essential medicines a moral imperative and a fully-realized human right.
Every religious belief and moral code is built on a foundation of caring for the sick and suffering, and every person being treated with dignity and justice. But here in the U.S., as CPPI followers know well, many of our neighbors, especially seniors, are forced to choose between paying for medicine or food, especially if they are blocked from importing more affordable medicines.
Most of us know someone who has struggled to afford the prescriptions they need. Globally, 10 million people die each year because they don’t receive medicines that exist, but are unaffordable. Many of those victims are children whose families and communities couldn’t afford basic vaccine protection.
Meanwhile, the corporations that own the rights to those medicines are rolling in money. Some enjoy breathtaking profits as high as 42 percent annually, built on government-granted monopolies on government-developed medicines, sold at prices set at hundreds of times over manufacturing costs. There is a profound imbalance when a company holds a monopoly on a life-saving product, and can force the desperately ill to pay any price it names.
But, despite significant majorities of Americans demanding drug pricing reform, our movement is not yet strong at the grassroots level in the U.S. That is where the faith community comes in.
In the U.S. and beyond, our policies are still significantly influenced by faith-based organizations and activists. History’s iconic social movements, including the U.S. civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement, relied on faith-based organizations for grassroots organizing, outreach to new allies, and morally-resonant messaging.
Access to medicines should be a natural priority issue for all people of faith. Virtually every congregation and creed embraces two principles that are at the core of the access to medicines challenge: basic equity among all people rich and poor, and access to health care. Many faith-based organizations even provide direct healthcare, in their own communities and internationally.
So, at People of Faith for Access to Medicines, our mission is to place medicines reform into a priority spot on the faith-based agenda. We do so through in-person conversations, group presentations, mass media articles, and active coalition-building. PFAM is dedicated to reaching out to individual persons of faith, congregations, and even the national and international leadership of faith-based groups.
People who are sick and suffering should be able to access the medicines they need. The fact that millions cannot do so is a moral failing and a denial of basic human rights., But we can fix this, and people of faith can help.
We at PFAM would love to talk with you, your congregation or group, or any congregation or group you can suggest to us, even if you are not a member of that group. You can check out our website at www.pfamrx.org and send us a message from there.
–Fran Quigly, Executive Director, People of Faith for Access to Medicines