WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — It’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on: prescription drug prices are too high.
One in four Americans say they can’t afford their prescription drugs because of skyrocketing prices. Experts say costs could double in the next decade if Congress doesn’t intervene, but legislators and President Donald Trump can’t seem to get together on how to attack the problem.
On Tuesday, lawmakers dug into the issue in an effort to find a way to protect the rights of the inventors of the drugs while making the critical, even life-saving treatments more affordable for the rest of us.
“The American people are fed up,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.
Blumenthal says the costs of prescription drugs are out of control and consumers continue to pay the price – literally.
“It is at the very very top of consumer concern,” he added.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that big drug companies have been charging too much for too long for patented, name-brand drugs.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, says cheaper, generic drugs should be available sooner, but also believes Congress must be careful.
“One thing you don’t want to do is kill the goose that laid the golden egg – which is pharmaceutical development,” Graham said.
Drug companies say they need to make money on brand-name drugs to fund research and development but lawmakers say those companies sometimes use tactics such as paying generic drug manufacturers to keep the cheaper drugs off the market.
Congressman John Joyce, R-Pennsylvania, says the FDA needs more power to police the big drug companies.
“The first step that we’re taking is sponsoring legislation,” Joyce said.
Joyce says his Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act of 2019 would make it harder for drug companies to use questionable tactics to extend their monopolies on brand-name drugs and “allow medicines to much more readily become generics.”
Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that Congress needs to take action soon.