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Gillibrand Takes On Big Pharma And Prescription Price Gouging

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - New York Senator Kirstin Gillibrand is taking on pharmaceutical companies, in an effort to keep prescription costs low. She made a stop in Canandaigua Monday morning to talk about price gouging on many brand name medicines.

Gillbrand spoke at the Ferris Hills senior living community, saying she hears complaints about drug costs all the time from constituents, and while it’s a problem with really anyone who needs a prescription, it’s an urgent issue for many seniors, many of whom lived on a fixed income.

She says she’s working on a number of bills to battle this crisis.

"First I have a bill that would basically say if these drug companies raise rates exponentially, 15-20%, that we take away their profits. That it’s a sliding scale. And if they do raise their drug prices by more than 20% you take away all their profits from that sale. To really incentivize them to stop gouging
Other efforts include letting Medicare buy in bulk, allowing people to buy drugs in Canada, and capping co pay costs

Chris Dailey is the Director of Pharmacy at Thompson Health. He shared examples of increases he’s seen and the battle to get people affordable medications.

”I can’t tell you how many times I hear, I’m just going to carry around my expired Epipen because I just can’t afford the $200+ this month…It’s the reality"

Dailey shared a few examples of increases he’s seen on his end of the prescribing process.

"Merck makes an antibiotic called “Invans” to treat various types of infections. It’s getting ready to go off patent, so generic companies have just been approved to start to make that. So in the last couple years their price has gone up 29%. And that’s just them squeezing every last dollar out of it that they can, and our expense."

Dailey says adjusting patent laws and making more medications open to genetic companies would also help with pricing as well.

A number of stories were shared about people choosing if or when to buy necessary prescriptions based on cost and Gillibrand urged people to continue sharing their journeys; she says the bill is not yet bipartisan.