Sen Dick Durbin’s Proposal to Keep Pharmaceutical Firms from Launching Sky-High Price Increases on Drugs

Springfield – At the Center for Medical Innovation at Memorial Hospital, Sen Dick Durbin (D) proposed changes in the ability of pharmaceutical companies to increase their prices.

Durbin’s proposal, which he calls the “Flat Prices Act” would reduce the period of time in which the manufacturer of a drug can enjoy an the exclusive right to sell it, IF the firm increases the price on their drug by more than 10% in a year.

This proposal comes within the backdrop of rapidly rising drug costs to hospitals and patients. Those price increases are sometimes dramatic. Critics claim this is just pure price gouging of consumers during the exclusivity period enjoyed by the firm during it’s period of exclusivity.

But Pharma firms argue it costs billions of dollars to bring a drug to market – and that most under development never make it to market at all. Pharma firms also say the government causes some of the price increases by the way they regulate Medicare and Medicaid.

It is often said that “politics make strange bedfellows” and in this quest to control the cost of pharmaceutical prices charged to the government, Sen Durbin may have an ally in President Trump — who make a point during his campaign, and more recently, that he feels the government is paying far too much due to the drug developers gouging.

While the Pharma industry has argued the high costs are needed to recoup the cost of development of new drugs that save lives, that claim was refuted in testimony earlier this week, when a Senate panel heard from one doctor, who testified that almost all the increases in prescription drug spending comes from price hikes on older drugs — that have been on the market for years.

The doctor, who is also a researcher on the drug industry claims that drug firms take advantage of patients with chronic illnesses that are responding to treatment, because drug firms know doctors hate to switch patients from a drug that is working for them.

Senator Durbin’s proposal comes the day after the Trump administration proposed major changes in the way pharma firms offer discounts.  Instead of those discounts going to a middle-man, the Trump Depart of HHS, wants the discounts offered directly to patients. 

Here is a press release on that proposal