Posted 20 December 2016
By Zachary Brennan
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN) and 17 of their Democratic and Independent colleagues on Tuesday sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to combat the pharmaceutical industry’s “abusive tactics” that “price lifesaving drugs out of reach for those in need.”
The senators lay out five actions to address the rise in pharmaceutical prices, including:
- Allowing the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices under Medicare, which some have suggested could save up to $16 billion annually
- Increasing drug price transparency (rebates are rarely revealed)
- Protecting consumers from abusive pricing tactics (ie. “not only gouging consumers with the 5,000-percent overnight price hikes that have made recent headlines, but also the persistent, unjustified double-digit price increases that drug corporations have levied on the American people year after year”)
- Better targeting taxpayer dollars in the drug development process (see this New York Timesstory from Tuesday)
- Stopping brand name manufacturers from blocking generic competition (senators previously introduced legislation in 2015 to make illegal such pay-for-delay deals)
“The public’s concern is well founded, just last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Office of the Actuary published that, in 2015, prescription drug spending grew faster than any other category of medical spending for the second year in a row. This evidence comes despite claims from the drug industry that high drug spending in 2014 would only be a temporary blip,” they write.
The call for such reforms comes as the Democrats also say there will be ample opportunities for Trump to make good on his campaign promises to lower the cost of pharmaceuticals, particularly as Congress considers the prescription drug, generic drug and biosimilars user fee agreement reauthorizations in 2017.