Stabenow introduces legislation to lower prescription drug costs

ISHPEMING — U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow visited the Ishpeming Senior Center Tuesday morning to introduce legislation that aims to lower prescription drug costs.

According to the AARP, the price for the most popular brand-name drugs rose 208 percent between 2008 and 2016.

“It’s not fair. People need medicine to stay healthy or possibly, even save their lives. Too many seniors can’t afford their medicine,” said Senator Stabenow.

Senator Stabenow’s legislation has three-parts, and the first bill already has bipartisan support. The Know the Lowest Price Act allows pharmacists to provide drug price information when there is a difference between a customer’s co-pay and the out of pocket cost.

“If you are using insurance, they can tell you what your co-pay is, but if your co-pay is $20 and you could pay $5 if you paid cash, oftentimes, their contracts prohibit them from telling you,” said Senator Stabenow. “It makes no sense, these are gag clauses.”

Part two, or the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, would allow for the negotiation of drug prices with drug companies. Negotiations between Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and pharmaceutical companies is prohibited under current law, affecting patients enrolled in Medicare Part D.

The last bill, the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, authorizes regulations permitting wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies and individuals to import drugs from licensed sellers in Canada.

“If the pharmacists, the hospitals or others can get a better price by going across the bridge into Canada and being able to do business, they should be able to do that,” she added. “We trade everything with Canada. The only thing that’s banned from being traded is prescription drugs. Why? Because the prescription drug lobby has successfully been able to stop competition to bring down prices and to stop the pharmacists from telling  you the lowest price, and that’s wrong.”

While the last two bills do not have bipartisan support yet, Senator Stabenow hopes the legislation will move forward this year. To learn more about these bills, click HERE.