As Pharmaceutical Companies Hike Prices on 245 Prescription Drugs, McConnell’s Senate Still Blocking Action to Lower Costs

Prescription Drug Reform “Remains Stalled” by Senate GOP, While Pharmaceutical Companies Hiked the Price of 245 Drugs by an Average of Nearly 24% in 2020 — Including Coronavirus Treatments

The New York Times reports that the GOP-controlled Senate “remains stalled” on the critical issue of lowering prescription drug prices, as “Senate Republicans have shied away from acting” on the issue — even amid an ongoing global pandemic. Senate Republicans’ refusal to act on prescription drug reform comes as a new analysis today finds the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped pharmaceutical companies from increasing prices for hundreds of drugs.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “appears to be in no mood to tackle the issue.” The House passed a bold reform bill that would slash the cost of prescription drugs last year, but it is languishing in the Senate because McConnell “has flatly refused to consider it.” Vulnerable Republicans facing re-election have declined to criticize McConnell’s inaction on prescription drug costs.

Over the past five months, pharmaceutical companies raised the price of 245 different drugs with an average price increase of nearly 24%, and more than 60 of the drugs that saw price hikes “were being used to treat the coronavirus.” The analysis from Patients for Affordable Drugs found that some of the price increases were because of “opportunistic hikes in the face of steep increases in demand.”

“Mitch McConnell is obstructing prescription drug reform, and GOP senators are enabling him because they’d rather protect their special interest allies and corporate donors in Washington than help hardworking families in their states struggling to afford medication in a pandemic,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “The House passed a commonsense plan to rein in out-of-control costs on life-saving prescription drugs with bipartisan support, but Senate Republicans are intent on watering down those reforms or blocking action altogether.”


New York Times: As the Coronavirus Spreads, Drug Pricing Legislation Remains Stalled

  • “The problems are real. They’ve only gotten bigger,” said Tricia Neuman, a drug policy expert who directs the Medicare policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation. A solution, she said, is on “life support.”
  • The politics have hardly changed — prescription drug prices have consistently ranked as the top health care concern for voters heading into the 2020 election — but Senate Republicans have shied away from acting…
  • Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has raised more than $200,000 from pharmaceutical companies so far this election cycle, appears to be in no mood to tackle the issue by bringing Mr. Grassley’s measure to the floor. In December, Mr. Grassley accused him of sabotaging his bill.
  • “All of the problems that pre-existed the pandemic are still there, if you’re paying too much for insulin, if you’re paying too much for cancer drugs like I am,” said David Mitchell, who founded Patients for Affordable Drugs and is battling a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. “Nothing has changed, except now we have millions of people who are unemployed who have lost income, who have lost insurance.”
  • Like Mr. Trump, Democrats have said they support a bill to lower drug costs, and the House passed such a measure in December. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, released a sweeping prescription drug plan last summer that went far beyond what Mr. Grassley has proposed.
  • Prescription medicine use has only intensified during the coronavirus crisis: Express Scripts, a prescription benefit manager with over 100 million customers, saw spikes in March for three-month refills and new prescriptions for conditions associated with higher coronavirus risk.
  • The House bill goes further in seeking to control the growth of drug costs, calling for the secretary of health and human services to negotiate prices with manufacturers, a provision that is projected to save more than $500 billion over a decade, according to the C.B.O.
  • The bills have faced predictable but fierce resistance from pharmaceutical companies…

Axios: Pandemic hasn’t stopped drug price increases

  • Pharmaceutical companies raised the price of 245 drugs between January 20 and June 20, according to a new analysis by Patients for Affordable Drugs.
  • The average price increase was 23.8%.
  • By the numbers: 61 of the drugs with price hikes were being used to treat the coronavirus, while another 30 were undergoing clinical trials for use against it.
  • “Although some price hikes may be attributable to interruptions in global manufacturing supply chains, others can be attributed to opportunistic hikes in the face of steep increases in demand,” the authors write.
  • Another 118 drugs that saw price increases are used to manage chronic conditions.


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