WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, hosted a news conference call Wednesday to discuss his efforts to bring down the costs of prescription drugs and help working Ohioans and Ohio seniors with health care costs. Americans are often forced to pay more than two or three times the amount people in other countries pay for the same medicines, which means many Ohioans, including seniors, are sometimes forced to choose between filling a prescription or putting food on the table.
“It’s not a mistake that current law protects big pharmaceutical corporations’ profits, at the direct expense of patients, by prohibiting the government from negotiating better prices for the American people. Drug companies were in the room when that law was written. And it’s been something I’ve been fighting to fix ever since,” said Brown. “I’ve also pushed to stop drug price gouging. We know that the high cost of drugs is a problem. We know how to fix it: we let Medicare negotiate, we penalize companies that price gouge, and we cap out of pocket costs for patients. The purpose of prescription drugs is to allow Ohioans to live longer, healthier lives – not to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives.”
Brown has led efforts in the Senate to lower drug prices. Brown is a sponsor of several bills to lower the cost of prescription drugs and prevent drug price increases from outpacing inflation, including the Affordable Medications Act which would penalize drug companies that increase the price of their drugs without justification and also end the restriction that prevents Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices for beneficiaries.
Brown also supports other efforts to lower the cost of health care for working Ohioans by capping cost of insulin at $35 a month, imposing penalties on drug manufacturers that raise prices higher than inflation and capping out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 a year.
According to a recent report from AARP Public Policy Institute, brand-name drug increases continue to outpace inflation; between 2019 and 2020, the price tag for more than 250 brand name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans rose by 2.9 percent, more than two times faster than general inflation. Holly Holtzen, the director of Ohio AARP, joined Brown on the call.
“For years, prescription drug price increases have dwarfed even the highest rates of general inflation. AARP is laser-focused on four provisions, already passed by the House, that work together to lower prescription drug prices and save the Medicare program and taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars,” said Holtzen. “More than four million people across the country, including more than 180,000 here in Ohio agree, that there will never be a better time to lower drug prices than the historic opportunity in front of Congress.”