Rep. Jan Schakowsky, along with Arizona Sen. John McCain and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, introduced legislation Thursday aimed at addressing skyrocketing prescription drug costs following nationwide concerns over the increase in the price of EpiPens.
The measure, known as the Fair Accountability and Innovative Research Drug Pricing Act, would take the first steps to addressing rising drug prices by requiring transparency for pharmaceutical corporations that plan to raise prices.
There has been widespread outrage over the continued price hikes on EpiPens, which are used to treat severe allergies. Over the past ten years, Mylan, the company that sells EpiPens, has raised the price on the potentially life-saving medication from $90 to over $600. Industry insiders have estimated that the EpiPen costs no more than $30, NBC News reported.
"Prescription drug corporations should not be allowed to hide behind a curtain, refusing to disclose information on drug prices and price gouging with impunity,” Schakowsky said in a statement. "Congress has sat by while Mylan increased the cost of life-saving EpiPens from $100 to over $600, while Gleevec, a cancer drug that came on the market at $30,000 now costs more than $100,000. The average cost of insulin has gone up 231 percent.”
"Now is the time for action," she added.
Nevertheless, pharmaceutical companies are still increasing drug prices. According to a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that the prices for prescription are unreasonably high. Seventy-six percent of respondents credited the pharmaceutical industry for setting prices too high.
The FAIR Drug Pricing Act would require drug manufacturers to notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and submit a transparency and justification report 30 days prior to raising drug prices by more than 10 percent. In 2015, U.S. prescription drug spending hit an all time high of $425 billion, accounting for roughly 16.7 percent of American health care spending.
According to a press release from the sponsoring lawmakers, the report would require manufacturers to provide a justification for price increases, manufacturing, research and development costs for the qualifying drug, net profits for the qualifying drug, marketing and advertising spending on the qualifying drug, and other pertinent information deemed appropriate.
The bill would not prohibit manufacturers from increasing drug prices, but it would give taxpayers notice of price increases and add more transparency to the prescription drug market.
“It’s abundantly clear that we need to address the unsustainable trend of sky-high prescription drug prices,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said in a statement. “The Fair Drug Pricing Act is an important step in demanding more transparency from pharmaceutical companies when they dramatically raise the prices of their products."