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At last: Biden administration takes action on prescription drug price gouging

Drugs Money Three Bottles IMG_9792About 50 percent or more of price increases driving recent inflation is caused from price gouging. On Thursday, finally, President Biden called out the pharmaceutical industry for raising prices too much.

Dozens of pharmaceutical companies will be required to pay rebates to Medicare for outrageous price hikes on prescription drugs that more than 750,000 seniors take per year, Biden said at a press conference. For the last quarter of 2023, 48 Medicare Part B drugs raised their prices faster than inflation, and some drug companies raised prices of some medications faster than inflation for every quarter over the last year.

The Inflation Reduction Act cracks down on price gouging, requiring these companies to pay rebates back to Medicare, saving seniors who take these drugs between $1 and $2,786 per dose on their medication.

The act allows Medicare to directly negotiate lower prescription drug prices, capped the cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries at $35, made recommended adult vaccines free, requires drug companies to pay rebates if they raise prices faster than the rate of inflation, and locked in savings of $800 per year on health insurance for nearly 15 million Americans.

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are fighting to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and put money back in the pockets of Big Pharma. Dozens of Republicans in Congress have received millions of dollars in donations from Big Pharma, according to Accountable.US, a government watchdog group.

“The historic Biden Inflation Reduction Act is working to lower drug costs for struggling seniors, including clawing back money from greedy drug company CEOs that chose to price-gouge despite posting billion-dollar profits,” said Liz Zelnick, director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power Program for Accountable.US.

“While there’s no good reason for highly profitable pharma companies to charge prices far beyond inflation on life-saving medicines, many Republicans in Congress gladly make excuses for it after taking millions from drug industry lobbyists,” Zelnick said.

While the administration is focused on lowering costs, Republicans want to go backward and again leave Medicare and seniors to the mercy of price-gouging drug companies, she said.


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It's great that Biden's doing that (but when does the $35 limit go into effect?) but alot of Dems (including candidates in state races) also get campaign donations or other payments from drug corporations. My former Congressional representative, Kurt Schrader, was definitely in the pocket of the drug industry--prior to the pandemic I received a constituent information letter asking me to suppose a bill he was sponsoring that would've subsidized the drug industry EVEN MORE for developing drugs of some use. I wrote back as scathing a response as I could manage--mentioning the Orphan drug Act among others as ways in which US taxpayers, who pay the highest drug prices in the developed world already subsidize the drug industry. No reply of course. I live in OR, where supposedly many people are "progressive", i.e, believe in acting to benefit public welfare, not just the welfare of the wealthy and corporations. Schrader retired, where I live was redistricted, so I got to be represented by DeFazio, a great guy, for a year or so, then he decided to retire. See this link for STAT's breakdown of "donations" , etc. At least in 2020-2021, GOP candidates & Congress people got about a million more then the Dems. Apparently a GOPer in NC got the most. I doubt if much has changed.

Solution is to: (1) change some of the S.Ct court justices, to a far less pro-corporate majority (you may've noticed that how pro corporate a candidate for the court is RARELY if ever discussed by mainstream media, including the NY Times & WaPo) so that if a majority of Congress could be persuaded to draft AND pass a solid/no loopholes campaign finance reform. And try to police donations, stock tips, etc., for those in office. Police effectively, as in reprimand/require the Congressperson to return the $$ or pay the US Treasurty the market cost of the freebie--just like I think Clarence Thomas and any other Justice should do for free jet rides, etc. Money should be earmarked for SNAP benefits.


Thanks for your comment and for the link on campaign financing. It's helpful to see the charts on how much money pharmaceutical companies donated to members of Congress. Also, it's interesting that banks, real estate, oil and gas, telecom, and law firms donated even more.

I agree much more needs to be done on campaign financing. With Congress so beholden to these large contributors, I don't know when that can be accomplished.

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