United States

Schakowsky, Durbin Push for Passage of ‘Fair Drug Pricing Act'

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, along with Arizona Sen. John McCain and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, introduced legislation Thursday aimed at addressing skyrocketing prescription drug costs.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Dick Durbin on Thursday continued a push to pass proposed legislation aimed at combating skyrocketing prescription drug costs following nationwide concerns over the increase in the price of EpiPens. 

"These drug costs are unsustainable and unjustifiable," Durbin said at an event at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. 

For years, Durbin and Schakowsky have fought to slow down the rising cost of prescription drugs, most recently pushing for the next step in fixing the problem -- passing the "Fair Drug Pricing Act."

"It's a common sense measure that will finally shed a light on the unfair practices of drug companies," Schakowsky said. 

The measure, formally known as the Fair Accountability and Innovative Research Drug Pricing Act, would require 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.

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.

"When the American people have had enough, that they are fed up with it and they will tell members of both political parties, 'We don't care what special interest is involved here,' for the good of country and the well-being and safety of our kids you have to do something," Durbin said. 

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