July 13, 2018

As Seniors Across New York Continue To Face Soaring Prescription Drug Prices, Gillibrand Visits Troy To Announce Legislation To Drive Down Costs And Increase Access To Safe, Affordable Medications

Trump Administration Refuses to Defend Pre-Existing Condition Protections in Lawsuit That Would Kick Millions Off of Insurance and Could Raise Prescription Medication Costs; Last Year, Nearly 28 Million Americans Experienced a Spike in Prescription Medication Prices and Many Seniors Were Forced to Go Without Their Prescription Drugs in the Face of Rising Costs

Troy, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited John F. Kennedy Towers Senior Housing in Troy to announce the Stop Price Gouging Act, which would drive down prescription drug prices, ensure access to affordable medications for New York seniors, and penalize drug companies that raise prices of medication without justification. Under current law, pharmaceutical companies can raise the price of their medication at any time with no justification. There is no mechanism to prevent a manufacturer from spiking the price of its drugs year after year, and pharmaceutical corporations are not required to report the increases in the price of their drugs to the public. In January 2017, median prices for prescription medications increased by an average of nearly nine percent, about four times higher than the overall inflation rate, forcing many seniors living on a fixed income to consider going without their medication.

“No matter where I am in our state, one thing I keep hearing over and over again is that New York’s seniors are extremely worried about the high cost of prescription drugs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must solve this crisis, and one of the most effective ways we can do that is by finally holding drug companies accountable with tough penalties when they spike the price of prescription drugs that New Yorkers need to treat their illnesses. I am proud to be the author of the Stop Price Gouging Act, and I will fight as hard as I can in the Senate to pass this important bill.”

“The skyrocketing costs of prescription medications are a matter of great consequence to those on fixed incomes, particularly our seniors. Without adequate oversight and regulation, Americans will continue to pay more each year for essential medical services, including prescription drugs. Ensuring access to affordable medications is a serious issue which requires serious solutions to protect the health and well-being of our most economically vulnerable residents. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership and advocacy on this important issue which affects millions of New Yorkers in communities like Troy each year,” said Mayor Madden.

“Most, if not all, of our seniors are living here on a very limited fixed income. The rising cost of prescription drugs impacts the amount of money they have to spend on basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter,” said Deborah Witowski, Troy Housing Authority Executive Director. “The success of this legislation will no doubt improve the quality of life for senior citizens across America. It will also positively impact our seniors at Kennedy Towers and the other 400+ seniors living at Troy Housing Authority sites. We thank Senator Gillibrand for bringing forth this needed initiative and for her continued commitment as an advocate for senior citizens across the nation.”

Gillibrand’s legislation would penalize pharmaceutical companies that engage in price gouging without cause, leading to price spikes for patients who rely on medication to treat diseases ranging from cancer to opioid addiction. The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

Gillibrand’s legislation, the Stop Price Gouging Act, would do the following:

  • Require pharmaceutical corporations to report any increases in the price of their products, as well as justification for any increases that exceed medical inflation, to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General, as well as to the public;
  • Impose a tax penalty on corporations that engage in excessive, unjustified price increases that are proportional to the size of the price spike;
  • Instruct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study examining how drug manufacturers establish initial launch prices and suggest best practices for monitoring new drug pricing; and
  • Reinvest penalties collected from companies in future drug research and development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Gillibrand is also pushing for Congress to act now to pass four other bills she has cosponsored that would help increase access and affordability of medications for seniors. This week, Gillibrand became an original cosponsor of the Capping Prescription Cost Act, which would ensure that individuals and families with high prescription drug costs are protected and can access necessary medications. This legislation would cap monthly co-pays in private insurance plans for prescription drugs at $250 per person and $500 per family. The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would tackle the issue of rising drug costs in the U.S. in four key areas: transparency, access and affordability, innovation, and choice and competition. The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2017 would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices in Medicare. The Affordable Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act would instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations for allowing wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs manufactured at FDA-inspected facilities from licensed Canadian sellers and licensed sellers in other countries.