Reduce prescription drug costs
The cost of prescription drugs is too high in this country. We know Ohioans are concerned about the cost of living right now, and one of the worst inflations we see, year after year, is drug prices. And often the culprit is price hikes by big pharma.
That is why I introduced the Affordable Medicines Act. It would penalize drug companies that raise the price of their drugs without justification, and it would finally allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for American seniors.
My entire career I’ve pushed for allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices. Currently, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is prohibited from negotiating better prices for Americans on Medicare like VAs or private companies do.
It is not a mistake that the law protects the profits of big pharmaceutical companies, to the direct detriment of patients. The pharmaceutical companies were there when this law was drafted. And it’s something I’ve been fighting to fix ever since. And with the cost of living hitting American retirees on fixed incomes particularly hard, now is the time to do so.
We also know that some companies increase the price of drugs year after year, even though the drug costs the same to produce. Many of these companies do not create new drugs or invest in innovation – they simply buy the rights to existing drugs from other companies; dismiss workers; multiply prices by eight, nine or ten; and then expecting patients, hospitals and taxpayers to foot the bill.
If drug companies raise prices at twice the rate of inflation for no other reason than to increase their bottom line at the expense of sick Americans, then that’s a price hike, and they should pay the price.
AARP recently released a study showing that between 2019 and 2020, the price of more than 250 brand name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans rose more than twice as fast as overall inflation.
We have to control these prices.
We know high drug costs are a problem. We know how to fix it: we let Medicare negotiate, we penalize companies that price-gouging, and we cap out-of-pocket expenses.
The purpose of prescription drugs is to help Ohioans live longer, healthier lives, not to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives.
President Biden has made it clear in the State of the Union that this is a priority, and I will work to make it happen.
Sherrod Brown is the senior US senator from Ohio.