Lowering Prescription Drug Prices

“No one should be forced to choose between food and life-saving medicine. It’s time to put people and patients before huge profits of drug corporations. Anyone’s life could be changed by a cancer diagnosis, an accident, a stroke – and that’s why having fair, equal access to prescription drugs is so important for ensuring healthcare for all.”

Drug corporations keep hiking the prices of prescription drugs higher and higher because they want to keep making higher profits than any other industry. Because they often have a monopoly, their price-gouging denies people needed care. Even though public funds often help to create drugs, drug corporations spend millions on lobbying to rig the rules and prevent the government from curbing their excess profits. Access to prescription drugs ensures that everyone can stay healthy, and that’s why in the senate, I’ll prioritize making sure that everyone can afford the medicines they need.

Require transparency in drug pricing. Drug corporations often justify their price-gouging by saying that drugs are expensive to research and develop. Patients and consumers deserve to know why drug corporations are dramatically increasing prices, and so drug corporations should be required to justify their price increases and disclose how much they spend on research, manufacturing, and marketing. Pricing transparency will allow the public to know what the actual costs are, and will bring accountability to drug corporations’ pricing decisions.

Stop pharmacy gag rules. Pharmacy benefit managers should not be allowed to “gag” pharmacists from discussing lower-priced generic medications with consumers. Doctors must be free to prescribe the appropriate medication for their patients, and pharmacists must be free to talk with their patients about therapeutically equivalent medications and the cost and availability thereof.

Allow importation of drugs from Canada. Wisconsin patients should have access to safe, lower priced drugs from our northern neighbor, Canada. I support legislation to establish a state-administered wholesale operation to re-import drugs from Canada, which are often available at significantly lower pricing, while seeking a federal waiver to do so.

Investigate and punish price-gouging. Our Attorney General (AG) should have the ability to investigate and take action against abusive pricing practices for prescription drugs. Manufacturers and wholesalers should be required to produce records or documents, upon request of the AG, to investigate claims of price-gouging of essential off-patent or generic drugs. If the AG determines that price-gouging has occurred, they would be able to petition the courts and impose a fine for each instance of price-gouging.

Work with federal leaders to lower prices. I will work with our federal delegation to advocate for significant changes to our laws that will lower drug prices. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has been a national leader on lowering prescription drug prices and ensuring healthcare access for all, and I will support her efforts on these important issues.

Government programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and SeniorCare and BadgerCare in Wisconsin, must be able to negotiate prices directly with drug companies, just like private insurers do. Public insurance programs have huge purchasing power, and we should be empowered to exercise that power to lower costs for taxpayers and patients alike.

The federal government should also end pay-for-delay practices that let drug corporations pay other drug manufacturers to delay releasing generic versions of highly profitable drugs.

We should change the rules of our patent systems drugs developed with publicly funded research are available to everyone.

We should allow safe re-importation of lower priced drugs from Canada.