Brown Introduces Comprehensive Legislation to Stop Skyrocketing Prescription Drug Prices

Legislation Has Been Called “Everything Pharmaceutical Lobbyists Hate”

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined his colleagues in re-introducing his Affordable Medications Act, comprehensive legislation to hold large pharmaceutical companies accountable for high prices and bring down the costs of prescription drugs. The Affordable Medications Act is commonly referred to as the bill that “combines just about every policy idea drug lobbyists hate,” and proposes to increase transparency for drug companies that are setting exorbitant prices, end the restriction that prevents the federal Medicare program from using its buying power to negotiate lower drug prices for its beneficiaries, and curb drug company monopoly practices that keep prices high and prevent less expensive generics from coming to the market.

The bill also includes several provisions authored by Senator Brown, including his Stop Price Gouging Act, which would require drug companies to report and justify increases in drug prices, and penalize drug companies that engage in unjustified price increases with financial penalties proportionate to the price spike. It also includes Brown’s provision to reduce the exclusivity period for biologics from 12 to 7 years, which would help expand access to affordable medications. 

“For too long, Big Pharma has prioritized profits over patients, exploiting Ohioans and their families and forcing working families to make impossible decisions between putting food on the table and affording their child’s insulin. It’s time to put an end to Big Pharma’s abusive practices of price gouging consumers year after year and ensure Ohioans can afford the medications they need to live longer and healthier lives,” said Brown.

Specifically, the Affordable Medications Act will work to lower drug prices by:

  • Requiring pharmaceutical companies to report how much they spend on research and development, advertising, marketing, and CEO pay;
  • Making drugs more affordable by allowing Medicare to use its buying power to negotiate lower prices; penalizing drug companies that spike drug prices; and allowing for the safe importation of cheaper drugs from other countries, like Canada;
  • Creating an innovation fund for new antibiotics and publicly funding clinical trials for new drugs to spur innovation; and
  • Blocking unfair and anticompetitive drug monopoly practices and helping more low-cost generic competitors come to market.

The Affordable Medications Act was introduced by Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). Brown is an original cosponsor of the legislation. The bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Senator Brown has long fought to lower the cost of prescription drugs for hardworking Americans:

  • During a Senate Finance Committee hearing in April, Brown pressed five of the nation’s largest Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) – including CVS Caremark, OptumRX, and Cigna/Express Scripts – to prioritize patients over profits. During the hearing, Brown urged the five PBM executives to provide more transparency in negotiations between drug companies, insurers, and pharmacies and to do more to look out for the best interests of patients who continue to struggle with skyrocketing drug prices.
  • Brown’s Stop Price Gouging Act with Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) would require drug companies to report and justify increases in drug prices, and penalize drug companies that engage in unjustified price increases with financial penalties proportionate to the price spike. 
  • Brown also introduced with Rep. Doggett (D-TX) a bill to put people over Big Pharma profits. Their Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate drug prices and, if drug companies refuse to negotiate in good faith, it would enable the Secretary to issue a competitive, compulsory license to another company that is willing and able to produce the medication as a generic.
  • Brown is a cosponsor of Ranking Member Wyden’s C-THRU Act, which would require PBMs to report on additional transparency measures related to rebates and discounts, and establishes a minimum percent of rebates and discounts which must be passed on from a PBM to a health plan.
  • Brown has also cosponsored the End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drug Ads Act, which would prohibit any federal tax deductions from being claimed for expenses related to direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs.  
  • Brown has also co-sponsored the following bills: