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 The leading web portal for pharmacy resources, news, education and careers March 21, 2019
Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - FLAT Prices Act would help lower drug costs by punishing abusive pharmaceutical companies and limiting monopoly periods to encourage competition from generics. In Maine, prices for certain diabetes, cancer, and stroke medications rose between 25-40% - March 21, 2019

Pharmacy News Article

 2/13/19 - FLAT Prices Act would help lower drug costs by punishing abusive pharmaceutical companies and limiting monopoly periods to encourage competition from generics. In Maine, prices for certain diabetes, cancer, and stroke medications rose between 25-40%

WASHINGTON As Maine people struggle with ever-increasing healthcare costs, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) introduced a bill today to help address unfair price hikes for prescription drugs. Golden's legislation imposes penalties on pharmaceutical companies who harm consumers with sudden, exorbitant price increases and promotes competition among manufacturers to lower drug prices.

Representatives Sean Casten (IL-06), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Max Rose (NY-11), and Chellie Pingree (ME-01) cosponsored Golden's bill, the Forcing Limits on Abusive and Tumultuous (FLAT) Prices Act. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a long-time leader on fair drug pricing, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

"We have to attack skyrocketing drug costs to make healthcare more affordable for working Maine people,"said Congressman Golden. "For years, Big Pharma has reaped record profits by jacking up the prices of drugs and squeezing every last cent out of regular folks who need their medicine to lead healthy lives. Our bill puts the needs of Maine people before corporations. The FLAT Prices Act imposes penalties on drug companies who set unfair, unnecessary prices and limits their monopolies to encourage competition and help drive down the cost of care."

"Abusive drug-pricing practices can financially cripple families and even put life-saving drugs out of people's reach," said Congresswoman Slotkin. "That is flat-out wrong. I regularly hear from the people who live in my Michigan district about the impact high drug prices have on them, their parents and their children. We have to stop companies from taking unfair advantage of them, and this bill will help do just that."

"The cost of prescription medication is out of control. Congress must pursue all proposals to rein in prescription drug prices," said Congresswoman Pingree. "I'm proud to cosponsor Congressman Golden's bill to discourage drug companies from putting profits before patients and to have his support on my bill to ensure Americans are able to legally purchase lower cost prescription drugs in Canada. Together we are fighting to reduce obscene drug costs for Mainers."

Healthcare data show that rising prescription drug costs are one of the biggest driver of overall healthcare costs across the country, and Maine is no stranger to skyrocketing prescription drug prices. In December 2018, the Maine Health Data Organization released new statistics on the 25 drugs that saw the highest annual price increase between 2016 and 2017. The average price increase for the 46,143 Mainers dependent on those 25 drugs was over 50 percent.

Golden's legislation targets the sort of corporate abuse made famous by Mylan's over 400 percent increase on EpiPens and Turing Pharmaceuticals' 5,000 percent increase on anti-parasitic drug Daraprim. Among other provisions, the FLAT Prices Act:

* Defines a price spike as an increase of more than 10 percent within one year, 18 percent within two years, or 25 percent within three years;

* Discourages pharmaceutical companies from spiking prices to dramatically increase profits and speeds access for generic manufacturers of prescription drugs. The bill shortens monopoly periods for drugs subject to significant price spikes. Under current law, pharmaceutical companies are awarded multi-year monopoly periods for new drugs, during which time cheaper, generic alternatives are excluded from the market; and

* Requires drug companies to report price spikes to the Department of Health and Human Services. Failure to report price spikes further shortens monopoly periods.

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Copyright (c) 2019 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.

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