We can’t pass up the opportunity to lower drug prices

When Americans go to the pharmacy to pick up their prescription drugs, they’re too often faced with a price that’s unaffordable, forcing them to make impossible decisions about how to spend their money. And inflation brought on by the pandemic has driven up the costs of everything from gas to groceries, making these decisions even harder for families.

The truth is, we pay more for prescription drugs in the United States than any other country in the world. And every year, pharmaceutical corporations raise the prices of prescription drugs — often faster than the rate of inflation — even though the drugs themselves haven’t changed. Just last month, like clockwork, Big Pharma increased the prices of almost 750 prescription drugs, including some of the top-selling medications used to treat cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. In the period from 2009 to 2018, the average price of a brand-name drug in Medicare Part D more than doubled

On average, Americans pay two to three times as much as people in other countries for prescription drugs, and one in four Americans who take prescription drugs struggle to afford their medications. Our prescription drug prices are so high because pharmaceutical corporations have monopoly control to set and raise the prices of prescription drugs, gouging patients for the medicines they rely on. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A few months ago, I voted to help pass legislation that would lower drug prices and put us on a road towards making real, tangible savings a reality for millions of Americans. Lowering drug prices is massively popular with the public — among both Democrats and Republicans — and has the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate. There’s nothing stopping Congress from passing a legislative package today that would lower prescription drug prices for American families.

The drug price reforms passed by the House would cap the price of insulin for people with insurance at $35 per month. It would cap out of pocket costs for seniors in Medicare Part D. And it would lower drug costs for everyone by penalizing drug corporations that increase prices beyond the rate of inflation, and ensuring, for the first time ever, Medicare will be able to negotiate prices for drugs. 

Lowering drug prices couldn’t come at a more critical time for families.

Democrats have promised for years that we’d hold Big Pharma accountable and lower the price of prescription drugs for Americans. And now we have the opportunity to follow through on that promise. That’s why last month, I sent a letter with 40 of my colleagues to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asking them to take swift action to lower drug prices. More than 90 organizations, led by AARP, representing patients, consumers, seniors, unions, physicians, and small businesses also sent a letter to Senate Democrats urging them to pass this legislation. 

Until Congress intervenes, drug corporations will do what they’ve always done: raise prices and boost profits. That’s how these corporations became the most profitable in the nation, outpacing other sectors in the S&P 500 and prompting investigations into their price-gouging.

That’s why we have to act now and pass legislation to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower drug prices for families. President Biden supports this plan. Every Democratic member of the U.S. Senate supports this plan. And most importantly, the American people support this plan. It is time to enact it into law. 

Susan Wild represents Pennsylvania’s 7th District.

Tags Chuck Schumer Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi prescription drug cost Susan Wild

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