Sen. Smith Battles Big Pharma About Prices, Transparency

June 12, 2019 07:15 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- The skyrocketing price of prescription drugs is a problem touching people in every corner of the country.

On Wednesday, Sen. Tina Smith re-introduced her bill at the nation’s capital, which would bring down prices and increase transparency.

The ‘Affordable Medications Act,’ which Smith also brought before Congress last session, focuses on increasing affordability by permitting the safe importation of cheaper drugs from places like Canada, and allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices.

Smith said the bill also addresses what’s typically seen as a lack of transparency among pharmaceutical companies.

“Today, big drug companies can basically charge whatever they want, and when they are challenged on the price of their medications often times they’ll say ‘well, we spend so much on research and development and we need to charge high prices to recoup that investment,’ but what they don’t tell anybody is that they get the benefit of significant research done that’s paid for by American taxpayers by the National Institute of Health,” Smith said.

Her bill requires drug companies to show how much they’re spending on research and development, as well as other expenses like marketing and CEO salaries.

“Rising prescription drug prices have a real impact on people’s lives. I’ve talked to seniors that don’t take all of the medicine that their doctor prescribes because they need to save money to buy groceries, and I’ve talked to families that are trying to afford insulin for their children and are struggling with whether they need to ration the medicine because they can’t afford it. This is literally an issue of life or death,” Smith said.

The bill, which is so far only co-sponsored by Democrats, would also try and encourage innovation in the marketplace by creating a prize fund for new antibiotics and publicly funded clinical trials.


Alice Keefe

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