US Senator Sherrod Brown: Lowering prescription drug costs – The Tribune

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown: Reducing prescription drug costs

Posted at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, 2022

Right now, Ohioans are struggling with high prices, and prescription drugs are among the most expensive items that many families are forced to pay for each month. Americans pay more than three times what people in other countries pay for the same drugs.

Retirement shouldn’t mean a choice between putting food on the table and getting the prescriptions you need.

Today, after years of battling opposition from Big Pharma and politicians still bidding on their lobbyists, we are finally on the verge of making progress.

The Cut Inflation Act forces drug companies to cut drug prices, especially for Americans on Medicare, and will make so many things we’ve been fighting for for years a reality. And with the cost of living hitting American retirees on fixed incomes particularly hard, now is the time to do so.

My entire career I’ve pushed for allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices. Currently, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is prohibited from negotiating for better prices for people on Medicare, as VAs or private companies do. This bill will finally change that, allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for American seniors and even forcing the Secretary to negotiate the price of the most expensive drugs.

This bill would also impose a $2,000 cap on prescription drug costs for older Americans and create an inflation rebate, which would force pharmaceutical companies that raise the price of their drugs beyond the rate of inflation to pay a rebate to Medicare.

It is not a mistake that the current law protects the profits of big pharmaceutical companies at the direct expense of patients. The pharmaceutical companies were there when this law was written, and I have been fighting to fix it ever since.

Very often, these companies do not create new drugs or invest in innovation. They simply buy the rights to existing drugs from other companies, lay off workers, increase prices by eight, nine or ten times – and then expect patients, hospitals and taxpayers to foot the bill. If drug companies raise prices at twice the rate of inflation for no reason other than to pay their bottom line, then they have to pay that money back.

We know high drug costs are a problem, and we know how to fix it: we let Medicare negotiate, we cap out-of-pocket spending, and we penalize companies that price-gouging. With this bill, we are finally on the verge of taking on the lobbyists of pharmaceutical companies and taking action.

Sherrod Brown is a Democrat and the senior United States Senator representing Ohio. His office can be reached at 212-224-2315.

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