Menendez, Pallone Call on Congress to Pass Legislation to Rein in Sky-High Rx Drug Costs

Menendez, Pallone Call on Congress to Pass Legislation to Rein in Sky-High Rx Drug Costs

U.S. prescription drug spending skyrocketed 1,415% over 30 yrs.

   

EDISON, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06) today visited JFK Medical Center in Edison to call on Congress to pass legislation aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs, creating greater transparency and increasing protections for consumers.

“For anyone who has struggled with a chronic condition like high blood pressure or depression, the ability to afford your medication is not just a matter of health. It’s a matter of wealth.  It’s about being able to support your family, do your job, succeed in school, and achieve your dreams,” said Sen. Menendez.  “It’s clear—especially after the Trump corporate tax cuts—that drug companies have the financial means to lower costs, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily do the right thing.  That’s why we need to make sure our laws support healthy competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace.”

“Prescription drug prices are higher than ever and American families and our health care system are suffering from staggering price hikes,” said Rep. Pallone, the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees federal health care policy. “It’s time to find workable solutions that will encourage the development of affordable and high quality drugs and incentivize the lower prices and transparency in the pharmaceutical marketplace, while also monitoring steep prescription drug price increases when they arise. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Menendez on this crucial issue.”


CLICK LINK TO VIEW SEN. MENENDEZ’S REMARKS

In recent years, consumers have witnessed unprecedented price increases for commonly used medications to treat diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, opioid overdoses, and life-threatening allergies, among others.  Price spikes of prescription drugs are often passed on to taxpayers, with Medicaid spending $42 billion and Medicare $97 billion in 2014 on prescription drugs.

The lawmakers were joined at a press conference at JFK Medical Center’s Whispering Knoll Assisted Living facility by Edison Mayor Tom Lankey and Maura Collinsgru, health care program director at N.J. Citizen Action.

Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pallone today discussed their support for two bills aimed at reining in the rising costs of prescription drugs by expanding the production of lower-priced generic drugs, and bringing transparency to drug manufacturers who exorbitantly raise their prices.  According to the Kaiser Foundation, U.S. prescription drug spending has jumped from $19.6 billion in 1984 to $297 billion in 2014, a 1,415% increase over 30 years.

The Stopping the Pharmaceutical Industry from Keeping Drugs Expensive (SPIKE) Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would require pharmaceutical companies who engage in price-gouging to explain to the public their reasons for hiking the prices of their medications when those increases exceed a certain benchmark.  Specifically, it would apply to the most expensive medicines that have seen increases of over 15% in a year or 50% in five years, and drugs costing at least $10 per dose that have doubled in price within a year or tripled within five years.  The bill calls for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to publish each submission, together with an easily understandable summary, on its website.  Manufacturers that fail to comply would be subject to civil monetary penalties.  Under current law, drug manufacturers are not required to public report their price increases and there are no deterrents for price spikes.

Drug manufacturers are not required under current law to publicly report increases in the list price of drugs, and there is no deterrent for them to unreasonably raise drug prices. 

The bipartisan Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), cracks down on drug companies that intentionally delay the required sharing of product samples with generic manufacturers to develop generic versions of the brand-name drug.  Under the bill, the branded pharmaceutical company could be held civilly liable and subject to damages for not providing samples in a timely fashion. 

“We all know we must do more to help bring down the cost of health care and make it more affordable for all.  Our starting point should not be cutting benefits and protections for consumers, as was the case with the repeated attempts by Republicans to repeal the ACA,” said Collingsgru.  “Instead we need to work toward solutions that bring down the price of health care services. Increasing transparency and access to generic drugs are an important part of any solution to rein in prescription drug prices and help ensure consumers will have access to the health care they need when they need it.”