For immediate release
June 15, 2017
LAS VEGAS, NV – Today, the Culinary Union thanks Governor Brian Sandoval for signing a historic pharmaceutical transparency bill into law and congratulates the first-term State Senator Yvanna Cancela (NV-10) for pioneering the landmark legislation to protect Nevadans who are living with diabetes from price gouging.
“We are pleased that Nevada is leading the nation in passing this legislation which will help thousands of Nevadans,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “We want to commend Senator Cancela, the Nevada legislature, and Governor Sandoval for their bipartisan work to support constituents who cannot afford essential diabetes medicines.”
Governor Sandoval signed the first-in-the-nation legislation — Senate Bill 539 (SB539) into law on Thursday, June 15, 2017 just moments after cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Culinary Health Center. The bill includes groundbreaking provisions from Senator Cancela’s diabetes bill, Senate Bill 265, such as requiring manufacturers of insulin to report costs of producing and marketing diabetes drugs, and requiring pharmaceutical sales representatives to report interactions with doctors – who they visited and what gifts they gave annually. The Governor vetoed SB265 on June 2, 2017, but the key provisions of the bill were later amended into another bill, SB539.
Over the last few weeks, Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition (NVDPC) members have made thousands of calls to Nevada State legislators, hung thousands of door hangers all over the state, and talked to their family, coworkers in employee dining rooms on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas, and friends about the importance of ending price gouging for diabetes medications. Coalition members also traveled to Carson City in April to share their experiences with legislators.
“I keep thinking about when I shared my story with legislators in Carson City,” said Rita Neanover, a Nevadan for 16 years and NVDPC member. “I’ve had several near-death experiences because I couldn’t afford my insulin. I’m so relieved Nevada is finally doing something about this issue.”
“I worry about my son coming into my room and finding me cold as ice,” said Keyonna Lawrence, a Nevadan for 15 years and NVDPC member. “I have had to ration out my insulin and not take it some days because I had to pay my light bill. I want to thank Senator Cancela for taking on the drug companies over price gouging for diabetes medicine in Nevada.”
The Culinary Union launched the Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition (NVDPC) on March 30, 2017 to build public support for controlling the cost of diabetes to Nevada’s taxpayers and families who are fighting the disease. NVDPC launched a campaign in every legislative district asking constituents to encourage their elected representatives to hold drug makers accountable for high prices and ensure Nevadans have affordable access to needed diabetes medicines.
Diabetes is a public health epidemic that costs Nevadans $2.4 billion every year in medical costs. One out of three Nevadans are either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Prescribed retail pharmaceuticals account for an estimated 57.6% of total diabetes healthcare spending. Insulin, the primary drug for controlling diabetes, was discovered 95 years ago, but drug companies have raised insulin prices as much as 450% beyond inflation since 1996.
“I’ve had two children die who were suffering with diabetes and were not able to afford their medication,” said Bonnie Jean Sedich, mother of four children born with Type 1 diabetes and Nevadan for 47 years. “I do not want other families to go through that in Nevada and I’m proud to have been a part of fighting to have more transparency from pharmaceutical companies.”
MEDIA: “Stop Price Gouging” has over 406,000 combined views on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBMQGDjf00
ABOUT THE NV DIABETES POLITICAL COALITION:
The Culinary Union launched the Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition in March 2017 to build public support for controlling the cost of diabetes to Nevada’s taxpayers and families who are fighting the disease.
The Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition launched a campaign in every legislative district asking constituents to encourage their elected representatives to hold drug makers accountable for high prices and ensure Nevadans have affordable access to needed diabetes medicines. For more information, go to www.NevadaDiabetesPoliticalCoalition.org.
ABOUT THE CULINARY UNION:
Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.
The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 143,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.
The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest immigrant organization with over 57,000 members – a diverse membership that is approximately 55% women and 56% Latino. Members – who work as guest room attendants, bartenders, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, and kitchen workers – come from 167 countries and speak over 40 different languages. The Culinary Union has been fighting for fair wages, job security, and good health benefits for working men and women in Nevada for over 82 years.
The Culinary Union encourages the public to stay away from Nevada hotels and casinos involved in active labor disputes such as most of the Station Casinos properties, including Palms, Red Rock Resort, and Green Valley Ranch. (We note that the company’s Boulder Station & Palace Station does not currently have a labor dispute.) To see the list of hotels and casinos in an active labor dispute, go to: VegasTravelAlert.org.