WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, unveiled a new report on skyrocketing prescription drug prices and drug shortages. At St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital in Pontiac, Peters joined Michiganders struggling with prescription drug costs and leaders from Trinity Health – the hospital’s parent company. They toured St. Joseph’s pharmacy and discussed the challenges health care providers and patients have faced in getting the medications they need due to high costs or lack of availability. Peters’ report follows his investigation into drug pricing and makes recommendations to address the cost, supply and national security threats to affordable prescription drugs.
“Every day, hardworking Michiganders face an impossible choice – having to decide between paying for medicine they need or basic necessities like food and housing,” said Senator Peters. “Right now, there are name brand prescription drugs that cost more than the average household income in Michigan, and some doctors face the possibility of rationing drugs because there are not enough doses to treat all of their patients.”
Peters continued: “We must address this serious public health and national security crisis, and my report makes commonsense recommendations to help lower prescription drug costs and ensure that Michiganders can get the medicine they need, when they need it.”
Peters was joined at today’s event by Shannon Striebich, President of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, and Bob Ripley, Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Office for Trinity Health. Jenni Bramble of Lincoln Park, Sheron Williams of Redford, and David Schapiro of Ann Arbor also spoke about the challenges they have faced in getting affordable prescription drugs.
"The issues of increasing drug prices and drug shortages are critically important for our hospital and the patients we serve," said Shannon Striebich, President of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. "Patients are forced to inconsistently take their medications because of the high costs of their prescriptions, or go without altogether, and shortages of critical drugs needed to care for our patients are a daily challenge. We are extremely grateful for Senator Peters' work to address these issues, and look forward to working with him further to find solutions."
“We are encouraged that Senator Peters has investigated drug shortages and price increases and has developed recommendations for improving this important health care crisis” said Bob Ripley, Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer for Trinity Health. “Having affordable medications and a sustainable supply chain is something Americans shouldn’t have to worry about.”
In October, Peters held listening sessions across the state to hear directly from Michigan health care providers and families struggling with high prescription drug costs and drug shortages. Following those discussions, Peters announced his investigation into the rising costs of prescription drugs and the short supply of critical medications affecting hospitals and patients throughout the country.
READ THE FULL REPORT: “A Price Too High: Cost, Supply, and Security Threats to Affordable Prescription Drugs”
The report’s key findings include:
- Brand name drug prices continue to increase at record levels: Of the twelve top selling brand name drugs in the U.S., prices have increased 68% since 2012.
- Drug shortages continue to rise: The number of active drug shortages in the second quarter of 2019 was 282, which exceeds the number of active shortages at any point in 2018.
- U.S. dependence on foreign sources of prescription drugs increases national security risks: Currently, more than 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients for prescription drugs sold in the U.S. come from overseas, primarily China and India.
The report’s key recommendations include:
- Prohibit unjustified price increases by pharmaceutical companies: Congress should pass legislation to require pharmaceutical companies to submit justification for their price increases above a certain threshold and shorten market exclusivity periods for prescription drugs that engage in price hikes.
- Level the playing field for generics: Congress should help encourage new and affordable generic competition by prohibiting unfair and manipulative patent and regulatory exclusivity practices.
- Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices: Congress should pass legislation to strike the “noninterference clause” that prohibits the government from negotiating drug prices under Medicare Part D.
- Allow for personal use importation where safe and viable: Congress should consider passing the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada into the U.S.
- Increase supply of safe and affordable drugs: Congress should reduce regulatory burdens to bringing new safe and affordable drugs to market for key drugs in shortage and shorten market exclusivity periods for those who engage in price hikes.
- Help bring pharmaceutical manufacturing for critical drugs back to the United States: The FDA should be given authority to provide incentives for pharmaceutical companies that bring manufacturing for certain critical drugs back to the U.S.
Peters is working to reduce prescription drug costs and address drug shortages for families in Michigan and across the country. In August, Peters sent a letter to the FDA pressing them on their efforts to counter drug shortages. In July, Peters-led provisions to lower health care costs for seniors advanced in the Senate. This past January, Peters helped introduce legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices on behalf of over 2 million Michiganders eligible for enrollment in Medicare Part D. Last Congress, Peters urged the Trump Administration to implement a rule holding drug companies accountable for overcharging for prescription drugs.