LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Pallone bill seeks to reduce prescription drug prices

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

Long Branch resident Gregory Uberto says it’s not unusual for some seniors to have to choose between buying medicine and buying groceries — Congressman Frank Pallone joined him and 50 other seniors at a public forum Monday on the rising cost of prescription drugs.

At the event, held at the Long Branch Senior Center, Pallone discussed his HR-3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would universally lower prescription drug costs by empowering the federal government to negotiate lower prices for those covered by by private and public insurance.

“The federal government will come up with the 250 name brand drugs, for which there is no generic competition,” he said. “They will look at the ones that have the highest costs and for which are increasingly unaffordable and then annually they’ll take at least 25 of those, it could be more, and they will negotiate with the drug companies to drain the price down.”

The piece of legislation would prevent drug companies from charging customers more than they do in six other countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and Japan. It also calls for penalties for drug companies that refuse to reduce their prices and a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare patients.

Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of national pharmaceutical trade union PhRMA issued a statement on the legislation, saying: “We do not need to blow up the current system to make medicines more affordable. Instead, policymakers should pursue practical policy solutions such as sharing negotiated savings with patients at the pharmacy counter, lowering coinsurance in Medicare Part D, increasing transparency on patients’ costs … among other improvements to the system.”

Pallone says he’s optimistic about the bill’s chances in gaining across-the-aisle support in the Senate, especially after President Donald Trump voiced support for lowering drug prices.