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Sen. Sherrod Brown proposes legislation to reduce prescription drug prices

February 7, 2019

Sen. Sherrod Brown proposes legislation to reduce prescription drug prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Democratic presidential hopeful Sherrod Brown on Thursday unveiled a legislative package aimed at reducing the high cost of prescription drugs. It would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices for people on Medicare and give other companies the ability to produce generic versions of medications if the initial drug company won’t negotiate in good faith.

“The purpose of medicine is to help people, not to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives,” said a statement from Brown, Ohio’s senior senator, who is introducing the “Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act” with Democrats Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. “Our bill would call Big Pharma’s bluff and demand prescription drug companies offer fair prices, or be boxed out.”

Brown says drug companies have threatened to refuse to sell drugs to people on Medicare if they were forced to negotiate.

“While there is no wonder drug to eliminate price gouging, we put patients first to ensure that only their health and security is nonnegotiable,” said a statement from Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who is introducing the bill’s House of Representatives counterpart with Democrats Peter Welch of Vermont and Elijah Cummings of Maryland. “We call on President Trump to follow the advice of Candidate Trump, by saving billions through ‘bidding.’”

Brown also announced that he’s re-introducing previously proposed legislation that would require drug companies to report price increases to the government and justify them. Under the bill he authored with another Democratic presidential aspirant - New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand - drug companies that can’t justify their price increases would face financial penalties proportionate to the price spike.

“We must stand up to pharmaceutical companies that are more worried about lining their own pockets and bolstering profits for Wall Street investors than making sure patients can access the life-saving medications they produce,” said a statement from Toledo Democrat Marcy. Kaptur, who is introducing the House of Representatives counterpart of that bill with Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan. “As policymakers, we must shine a light on price gouging. The predatory pricing practice must stop. The health and well-being of millions of Americans depends on it.”

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), the Congress members said.

This story will be updated after a news conference.

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