WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced legislation he will introduce with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to penalize pharmaceutical companies that engage in price gouging without cause, leading to price spikes for patients who rely on medication to treat diseases ranging from cancer to addiction. Brown’s bill, the Stop Price Gouging Act, would hold drug companies accountable for large price increases, and, according to Health Affairs Blog, would result in billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. 

The Stop Price Gouging Act would:

  • Require drug companies to report increases in drug prices, and justify the increase.
  • Penalize drug companies that engage in unjustified price increases with financial penalties proportionate to the price spike.  

“The purpose of prescription drugs is to allow Ohioans to live longer, healthier lives – not to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives,” said Brown. “Too many Ohioans still struggle to afford the medicine they need, and often, the culprit is price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations. It has to stop, and that’s why I’m introducing the Stop Price Gouging Act, to protect Ohioans from prescription drug price spikes and to require drug companies to report increases in drug prices, and justify their increases.”

Any revenues collected through the Stop Price Gouging Act would be reinvested in future drug research and development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In 2015, Americans spent an all-time high of $324 billion on prescription drugs, with taxpayer dollars accounting for nearly 70 percent of this spending. According to Consumer Reports, nearly 28 million Americans have personally experienced a spike in the cost of their prescription medications over the past year. Under current law, pharmaceutical corporations can increase the price of their products without justification.

Brown was joined by Ms. Elizabeth Borgemenke, a southwest Ohio patient who wrote into Brown’s office regarding the skyrocketing cost of insulin.

“The cost of medication has soared to a level that is causing pain and suffering to the millions of people who depend on them for survival.  This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue affecting all Americans.  I feel strongly that drug companies have to be held accountable, and this legislation is an important first step,” said Ms. Borgemenke. 

Brown’s bill is part of his larger efforts to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for Ohioans, which have been described as “every policy idea drug lobbyists hate.”  Brown’s Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act includes the Stop Price Gouging Act as well as language authored by Brown to increase access to biosimilar drugs, providing additional competition in the marketplace and making them more affordable.

In December 2016, Brown wrote to President Trump outlining specific steps his Administration should take to help Congress reduce prices for working Americans including: allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate better prices for Medicare recipients; requiring drug companies to disclose costs associated with creating drugs so prices are more transparent; putting an end to abusive price gouging; and ensuring competition and innovation that will lead to greater competition and more affordable, effective drugs.