Bid to stop price gouging for prescription drugs

Proposed bills in Annapolis target drug companies
Posted at 4:59 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 17:49:03-05
There is no cure for early-onset Alzheimer's Disease, but some drugs can treat the symptoms, if only Bonnita Spikes could afford them.
"When I first got diagnosed, I was covered by good insurance,” Spikes said. “When I couldn't work anymore, I didn't have insurance, and the short story is I couldn't afford my medication."
In recent years, critics say many companies have driven up prices on generic drugs, which had remained affordable for decades.
"In one case, a 64-year old drug had the price rise from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill---a 5,000 percent increase," said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
The price of the generic drug used to reverse heroin overdoses, Naloxone, has doubled as the demand for it has reached epidemic proportions.
"Why is it that at the time of a public health emergency, we are priced out of our ability to save lives?” questioned Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “In Baltimore City, we have had to make the difficult choice of deciding which patients we should be giving this live-saving medication to.  That should not have to happen."
The president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, Vincent DeMarco, says proposed legislation in Annapolis would address the gouging.
"Right now, we don't know if there's going to be a big jack in the price,” DeMarco said. “Under this bill, we'll get 60 days to know and with alternatives provided of what we can do if there's a big increase in the price.  We need that.  We need the disclosure.  We need to give the Attorney General his authority."
The authority to freeze prices and to impose hefty fines if the companies can't justify their increases.
It's a bid to keep consumers like Spikes from being priced out of the medications they need.
"One was over $500, and I think the other one was actually higher than that.  I don't remember exactly."

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