Column: We must lower prescription drug costs


The cost of prescription drugs is too high in this country. We have to crack down on big pharmaceutical corporations, and get these prices under control.

It’s why my entire career I have pushed to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices.

Right now, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is banned from negotiating to get better prices for people on Medicare, the way the VA or private companies do. This protects big pharmaceutical corporations’ profits, at the direct expense of patients.

That’s why I introduced legislation to give Medicare the power to negotiate directly with these corporations, and demand bigger discounts to lower costs.

These companies benefit from huge taxpayer investment, and then turn around and charge those same taxpayers exorbitant prices under government-protected monopolies – all while reaping huge profits and paying out massive CEO bonuses.

Under our plan, if drug companies refuse to negotiate in good faith, the Secretary could force competition into the market by issuing a license for the drug to another company, who could produce the drug as a generic. And we all know that when there’s more competition in the market, prices go down.

If drug companies want taxpayers to keep protecting their monopolies, they need to charge people fair prices. If they don’t, we’re going to hold them accountable.

The purpose of medicine is to help people – not to line the pockets of Big Pharma executives.

I also introduced legislation to crack down on drug company price gouging.

The Stop Price Gouging Act would protect Ohioans from prescription drug price spikes by requiring drug companies to report and justify their decisions to increase prices, and penalize companies that jack up their prices for no reason other than to pad their own profits. This could result in billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

President Trump keeps saying he wants to lower drug prices. But just like the jobs he said he’d bring back to the industrial heartland, so far we’ve seen nothing but empty promises. There were more than 4,000 brand-name drug price increases in 2018 alone.

It’s time we allowed the Secretary to negotiate lower prices for more than 44 million Americans on Medicare, and it’s time we held drug companies accountable for price gouging patients.

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Sherrod Brown is a U.S. senator, representing Ohio. You may contact him at his office in Cleveland, 801 W. Superior Ave., Suite 1400, Cleveland, OH 44113. You may call his office at 216-522-7272 or 1-888-896-6446.

Sherrod Brown is a U.S. senator, representing Ohio. You may contact him at his office in Cleveland, 801 W. Superior Ave., Suite 1400, Cleveland, OH 44113. You may call his office at 216-522-7272 or 1-888-896-6446.