The cost of prescription drugs is too high in this country. We know Ohioans are concerned about the cost of living right now, and some of the worst inflation we see, year after year, is drug prices. And often, the culprit is price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations.
It’s why I introduced the Affordable Medications Act. It would penalize drug companies that increase the price of their drugs without justification, and it would finally allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for American seniors.
My entire career I have pushed to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices. Right now, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is banned from negotiating better prices for Americans on Medicare, the way the VA or private companies do.
It’s not a mistake that the law protects big pharmaceutical corporations’ profits, at the direct expense of patients. Drug companies were in the room when that law was written. And it’s been something I’ve been fighting to fix ever since. And with the cost of living hitting retired Americans on fixed income particularly hard, now is the time to get this done.
We also know that some corporations raise the price of drugs year after year, even while the drug costs the same to produce. Many of these companies are not creating new drugs or investing in innovation – they’re simply buying the rights to existing drugs from other companies; laying off workers; hiking prices by eight, nine or ten-fold; and then expecting patients, hospitals, and taxpayers to pick up the tab.
If drug companies are hiking prices at double the rate of inflation for no reason at all other than to pad their bottom line at the expense of sick Americans, then that’s price gouging, and they should pay a price for it.
AARP recently released a study showing that between 2019 and 2020, the price tag for more than 250 brand name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans rose more than twice as fast as overall inflation.
We have to get these prices under control.
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.
The purpose of prescription drugs is to allow Ohioans to live longer, healthier lives – not to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives.
President Biden made it clear in the State of the Union that this is a priority, and I’ll be working to get it done.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.