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Lawmakers push for action on drug costs

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FAIR Drug Pricing Act seeks more transparency on price hikes

WASHINGTON — Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) this week reintroduced the Fair Accountability and Innovative Research (FAIR) Drug Pricing Act, aimed at improving cost transparency for pharmaceutical price hikes.

The FAIR Drug Pricing Act would require drug manufacturers to notify the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and submit a transparency and justification report 30 days before raising the price of certain drugs that cost at least $100 by more than 10% in one year or 25% over three years.

Senator John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.)

“Far too many Americans have been unfairly burdened by the rising costs of prescription medication. The American people should not be forced to choose between filling a prescription and making their monthly mortgage payment,” McCain said in a statement. “This legislation would bring much-needed transparency to prescription drug prices — a policy that eight in 10 Americans support, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Transparency leads to accountability, and it is past time that mantra applied to the skyrocketing cost of prescription medication.”

In the transparency report, drug makers would be required to provide a justification for each price increase; manufacturing, research and development costs for the qualifying drug; net profits attributable to the drug; marketing and advertising spending on the drug; and other information as deemed appropriate.

“When a quarter of families in our country are unable to fill prescriptions for the drugs they need due to skyrocketing costs, it is time to hold manufacturers accountable,” Schakowsky noted, adding that it’s time for drug companies to “come clean” with U.S. consumers. “If a prescription drug corporation wants to hike the price of lifesaving medications, they should have to face the American people and explain why.”

The FAIR Drug Pricing Act wouldn’t prohibit manufacturers from raising prices but would give consumers notice of price increases and bring “basic transparency” to the prescription drug market, the lawmakers said.

“I’ve heard from countless Wisconsinites who continue to see dramatic price increases. They are struggling to afford their prescriptions that they have relied on for years, and they want Washington to act,” Baldwin commented. “Our bipartisan reform will require transparency and accountability for drug corporations who are jacking up costs for families in need of affordable, lifesaving treatments.”

Also this week, McCain joined with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) in calling for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Mick Mulvaney to use executive authority to reduce prescription drug costs. The move also urges certifying the prescription drug importation from Canada as a cost-saving measure.

“We urge you to seriously consider this existing statutory authority as well as explore other options for executive action,” the three senators said in a letter to Mulvaney this week. “We also ask that you please provide your recommendations as to what additional authority you would require to protect American consumers. Of course, we would welcome your support of our legislation to bring down the costs of prescription drugs as well.”

Citing press reports, the senators said Mulvaney he has been discussing executive or administrative solutions with President Donald Trump to address rising prescription drug prices, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has held “listening sessions” on potential solutions.

“We write to express our support for such efforts that could provide immediate relief to Americans,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Consistent with your comments last week, the administration has an opportunity to use existing statutory authority to quickly restore competition to the market with the introduction of cheaper, imported alternatives.”

McCain, Klobuchar and Grassley also have worked together on Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, a bill introduced earlier this year that would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada. The lawmakers said this woud bring sizable savings to consumers and more competition to the pharmaceutical market. They’ve also worked on legislation that would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.


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