Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Dick Durbin working with Trump to reduce drug prices

By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ senior U.S. Senator unveiled new legislation to lower drug prices during a visit to Springfield and said the effort could get support from the White House.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said the pharmaceutical industry in the United States doesn’t operate in a free-market system. He said the Food and Drug Administration gives drugmakers of new drugs five to twelve years of exclusivity.

“During this time FDA agrees not to review cheaper generic alternatives. That means the drug manufacturer can charge whatever they want without competition during this period,” Durbin said.

Durbin said his Forcing Limits on Abusive and Tumultuous, or FLAT Drug Prices Act reduces the exclusivity term if a drugmaker increases the price more than ten percent a year or similar increases over several years. The measure requires self-reporting and gives the drugmaker the opportunity to explain the increase.

Durbin, D-Springfield, said he’s hopeful to continue working with Trump administration on the issue of drug prices. President Donald Trump has pledged to lower drug prices and put pressure on the pharmaceutical industry.

Durbin also has other bills that will address drug pricing practices.

“On one of them, posting of drug prices on television, and another one saying that if the drug company offers a discount to any country they got to offer the same discount in the United States,” Durbin said. “Actually, I’m working with the Trump administration on those two provisions.”

Durbin said he’s hopeful to get bipartisan support on the issue after “we get beyond the wall.”

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said there is bipartisan support to reduce drug prices.

“Just like I hope we have bipartisan support addressing our broken health care system that’s still leaving upward to 60 million people in this country uninsured or having insurance that they can’t afford to use,” Davis said.

Davis said he’s still waiting for the House majority Democrats to produce their plan on health insurance.

It’s no secret that prices of prescription drugs are going up, said Davesurrance President Dave Castillo. How much depends on who you ask.

“Depending on who you read or who you listen to, anywhere from 250 to 1,000 different medications are going to go up around, on average, about six percent with inflation only about two percent,” Castillo said.

Castillo said there are legitimate reasons the cost of a drug may go up.

“Their expenses that have to do with bringing the drug to market,” Castillo said.

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