Earlier this year, my work to lower drug prices for Ohio families was described as combining “every policy idea drug lobbyists hate.” And that’s something I’m pretty proud of.
So I continued those efforts last week by introducing the Stop Price Gouging Act, which would require drug companies to report and justify increases in drug prices.
If there’s a shortage in one of the chemicals you need to make a drug or a sudden increase in demand, raising the price a little bit may make sense. But jacking up prices for no reason other than padding corporate bottom lines at the expense of sick Americans is just plain price gouging. In that case, the drug corporation would pay a fine proportional to the price hike. Any revenues collected through the bill would be reinvested in future drug research and development at the National Institutes of Health.
Prescription drug prices are too high. It’s past time Washington did something about it.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we have made some progress in lowering costs — we’re on track to close the Medicare Part D “donut hole” by 2020. Yet, even with these efforts, too many Ohioans still struggle to afford the medicine they need.
And price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations is often the culprit. Companies raise the price of drugs year after year, even while production costs remain the same.
Nearly 28 million Americans reported that they personally experienced a spike in the price of their prescription medications over the past year. The price of insulin, which has been around for decades, has increased, along with the price of the EpiPen, which has increased in price from $100 in 2007 to $500 in 2016.
Pharmaceutical corporations are also buying the rights to existing drugs, then hiking prices by massive amounts and expecting patients, hospitals, and taxpayers to pick up the tab. One company went so far as hiking the price of a drug more than 5,000 percent overnight, just to increase its profits.
This makes drugs to treat everything from cancer to diabetes to opioid addiction unaffordable.
We’ve seen price spikes in naloxone, which Ohio first responders need to save lives when responding to overdoses, and Vivitrol, which helps Ohioans overcome their addiction.
Ohio taxpayers help to fund the research and development that goes into creating new treatments and cures. And that’s what prescription drugs should do: provide treatments and cures to allow Ohioans to live longer, healthier lives – not help to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives. I will continue working to make sure all Ohioans can afford the prescription drugs they need.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator from Ohio.