Sen. Baldwin pushes to hold drug makers accountable on cost

Image courtesy MGN Online.

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Consumers continue to pay the high price for the rising cost of prescription drugs, but a bi-partisan effort is underway in Congress to address the problem.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation last year calling for more transparency and accountability on the part of the drug manufacturers. Now that legislation has been fine-tuned.

“We absolutely need oversight, we absolutely need to reign in these drug company practices,” said Baldwin, pointing out the added costs are left to struggling families and taxpayers.

Baldwin, a Democrat, has teamed up with Republican Senator John McCain, calling this an issue facing all Americans.

The Fair Drug Pricing Act would require drug makers to disclose information about planned drug price increases. Those companies would have to submit a transparency and justification report 30 days ahead of a 10 percent price hike on a drug costing at least $100, or a 25 percent increase over three years.

“It would add some accountability and transparency to the system,” said Baldwin.

FOX11 Investigates found the price hikes affecting generic medicines as well.

Kristene Stacker is executive director of the Partnership Community Health Center in Menasha. She has witnessed pills that were once 25-cents, skyrocket in cost to $9 or $10 a pill for generic meds.

Medical professionals throughout Northeast Wisconsin say healthcare is very well regulated, while prescription drug manufacturers are not.

“How they sell the drug, how they price the drug, how they market the drug, which is a lot of the cost right now, is not a regulated area,” Dr. Ashok Rai, CEO with Prevea Health, told FOX11 Investigates in February.

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found more than 85 percent of Americans support requiring drug companies to release information on how they set prices.

“I kind of feel like they raise the prices because they can and there's nobody doing anything about it,” said Baldwin.

Healthcare reform is a major topic on Capitol Hill right now, although it has democrats and republicans split. Baldwin says one thing they can agree on, and hopefully soon, is working to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs.

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