Politics

Hillary Calls For Fines, Oversight Panel To Prevent Drug Price Gouging

REUTERS/Chris Keane

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested creating an oversight panel to fine pharmaceutical companies for “unjustifiable” price increases on life-saving drugs Friday.

Her proposal to drive down drug prices comes in the wake of the bipartisan outrage over Mylan pharmaceuticals’ decision to hike the price of its life saving allergy shot, the EpiPen, by 461 percent since 2007.

The former secretary of state said the funds collected from the penalties would be used to “increase competition and access” by allowing for the direct purchase of drugs, comparing the move to the Vaccines for Children program she spearheaded in the ’90s. The candidate claims the oversight panel will incentivize drug makers to create generic versions and drive down prices.

In addition, she would allow for generic versions of medications to be temporarily imported from other countries in certain circumstances and would place a cap on out-of-pocket costs. She also called for the abolishment of “pay for delay” practices allowing companies holding patents to pay off competitors from entering the market.

“In cases where there is insufficient competition and an unjustified price spike, Hillary’s plan would enable emergency purchases of alternative versions of longstanding, life-saving treatments to make them available to consumers in need, and encourage competition from additional suppliers. Leading experts have suggested direct purchases to respond to price increases and a lack of competition for generic drugs,” the proposal says.

“They will determine an unjustified, outlier price increase based on specific criteria including: 1) the trajectory of the price increase; 2) the cost of production; and 3) the relative value to patients, among other factors that pose a threat to public health,” the plan explains, describing the oversight panel.

Both Republicans and Democrats slammed Mylan for its price hike on the life-saving allergy shot, demanding answers from CEO Heather Bresch, the daughter of West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, on the company’s reasoning behind the price hike.

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley spearheaded a bipartisan effort in the upper chamber to call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve an alternative to the EpiPen to increase competition and drive down prices.

Following the firestorm of criticism, Mylan announced it would release a cheaper alternative and expand its prescription assistance program.

Despite the company’s efforts, Congress launched an investigation into pricing practices.

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