Ending Big Pharma’s Price-Gouging

For far too long, the federal government has been coming to the negotiating table with pharmaceutical companies with one hand tied behind its back, unable to take real action that ends price-gouging and lowers the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and families. And the outcomes of these negotiations come at the expense of independent pharmacies that serve Oregonians in communities big and small.

Last week, I heard firsthand at small, independent community pharmacies like Ashland Drug, Brooklyn Pharmacy in Portland, and Rice’s Pharmacy in Corvallis about how they’re being squeezed by big insurance companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) through exorbitant fees, even forcing some to close their doors.

And the conversations I had last week echo similar problems experienced by pharmacies in Eastern and Central Oregon who have had trouble keeping their doors open and serving their communities.

The fees imposed on independent pharmacies and set by what’s known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are arbitrary, inconsistent and unfair -- making use of monopoly power to hurt small businesses. I’ve asked the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to use its authority to lessen the financial burden on independent pharmacies and help them keep their doors open, so they can continue to serve rural communities across Oregon and nationwide. 

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal now recently signed into law by President Biden, progress continues on Democrats’ boldest economic agenda yet. I’m thankful that the Build Back Better agenda includes my historic drug pricing agreement that will allow Medicare to negotiate drug pricing directly with Big Pharma and end their price-gouging at the pharmacy counter.

It’s completely unacceptable that this country pays three times more for drugs than other developed nations. I’m confident that the Build Back Better agenda will be a historic turning point for Americans’ health care costs.

My drug pricing plan will: 

  • Allow Medicare to negotiate fairer drug prices for seniors, including all insulins.

  • Cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at the pharmacy counter at $35 per month under Medicare and those with private insurance.

  • Cap seniors’ annual out-of-pocket pharmaceutical costs at $2,000 for Medicare Part D drugs.

  • Allow seniors to spread what they do have to pay at the pharmacy counter out over the course of one year. That means they don’t have to make tough choices between food and medicine in the early months of the year. 

  • Overhauls how Medicare pays for prescription drugs to incentivize lowering the cost of drugs.

No doubt, there’s a lot more hard work ahead to get this historic agenda across the finish line. But I’m confident that Democrats in Congress will get it done. Americans cannot wait any longer for drug pricing relief, and that’s a battle I’m determined to win.