Brown, Gillibrand, Franken, Reed, Hassan, Udall Introduce Legislation to Protect Americans from Prescription Drug Price Spikes

Senators’ Bill Would Hold Drug Companies Accountable for Price Gouging

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced legislation 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 opioid addiction.

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. Nearly 28 million Americans have personally experienced a sudden spike in the price of their prescription drugs over the past year according to consumer reports.

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.”

“Our bill would for the first time impose stiff penalties on drug companies that gouge the prices of medicines that their patients rely on for lifesaving treatment,” said Gillibrand. “We’ve seen too many cases where drug companies, like the makers of the EpiPen, have cruelly inflated their prices on prescription drugs – some even by as high as over 5,000 percent – just because they could get away with it, without any concern for how their actions would affect sick New Yorkers who are desperate for access to life-saving medicine. I am proud to introduce this bill with my Senate colleagues, and I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that New Yorkers never have to bankrupt themselves when they get sick and need to pay for medicine.” 

“One of the biggest problems in the prescription drug industry is that there isn’t nearly enough accountability,” said Franken. “Without explanation, millions of Americans see their drug bills become more and more unaffordable each year. Our bill would help keep price gouging in check by forcing drug companies to justify price spikes and penalizing them if they can’t. This step would help put the pharmaceutical industry on a road that puts the livelihoods of patients ahead of profits.”

“Year after year, we continue to see astronomical increases in drug prices, and rarely is there a good reason offered for these price jumps. We need to bring some measure of transparency to prescription drug pricing.  This legislation will help hold drug companies accountable if they try to unfairly hike prices on medications that patients depend on,” said Reed.

“It is long past time for Congress to take bold action to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Hassan. “Time and again, we have seen big pharmaceutical corporations unjustly hike up the price of their products, padding their pockets at the expense of families and seniors. These harmful practices must end, and that is why I am proud to introduce the Stop Price Gouging Act to finally put patients first.”  

“New Mexicans who rely on prescription drugs for life-saving treatment shouldn't be at the mercy of corporate executives padding their bottom line,” Udall said. “No one should face going broke in order to get well -- we need to stop unfair price-gouging by Big Pharma and ensure people can access affordable medication when they need it. Our bill would require badly needed transparency in how pharmaceutical corporations set their prices and justify their cost spikes.”

At least four pharmaceutical companies have already publically committed to limiting their own price increases. The bill would hold more drug companies accountable for jacking up the price of their drugs overnight.

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.

The Stop Price Gouging Act has been endorsed by the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Daily Kos, Families USA, People Demanding Action, Public Citizen, and Social Security Works.

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