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Sen. Wyden takes aim at high-in-the-sky drug prices

Sen. Ron Wyden
D-Oregon
Going after sky high drug prices…

WYDEN RELEASES DRUG PRICING BILLS TO INCREASE TRANSPARENCY, CONSUMER PROTECTION
Top Finance Democrat Reintroduces Legislation to Address Broken Drug Supply Chain

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today introduced three bills that will help bring transparency to the opaque, broken drug pricing system and bolster consumer protections for seniors with high drug costs.

“Drug companies and their middlemen operate in the dark as they extract profits from taxpayers and working families that are struggling to afford medicine,” Wyden said. “These bills represent the bare minimum of what’s required to pull back the curtain, put drug pricing on a sustainable course, and provide relief to seniors getting crushed by high costs. I am eager to move forward in the coming months on these and other reforms that fix the broken drug pricing system.”

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The three bill Wyden introduced are the SPIKE Act, the C-THRU Act and the RxCAP Act. SPIKE addresses drug makers that continue to take large price increases with no justification, C-THRU reveals how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) make use of drug rebates and how much actually goes to lowering consumer costs, and RxCAP places an out-of-pocket limit on what seniors in Medicare Part D pay for drugs.

Prescription drug prices in the United States have been among the highest in the world. The high cost of prescription drugs became a major topic of discussion in the new millennium, leading up to the U.S. health care reform debate of 2009, and received renewed attention in 2015. High prescription drug prices have been attributed to government-granted monopolies to manufacturers and organizations lacking ability to negotiate prices.

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The Stopping the Pharmaceutical Industry from Keeping Drugs Expensive (SPIKE) Act would require the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to notify drug manufacturers when their drug’s price has increased passed certain benchmarks. One benchmark seeks to address modestly-priced drugs whose prices are unreasonable increased, targeting actors such as Turing Pharmaceuticals, which increased the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent. The other benchmark seeks to address drug price increases that Medicare and Medicaid spend the most, even if the increases are less dramatic. Additional information on the SPIKE Act can be found here, and the legislative text can be found here.

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