Durbin, Schakowsky Call For Congressional Action on Skyrocketing Prescription Drug Costs

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) today discussed new efforts to combat the skyrocketing costs of certain prescription drugs and the need for congressional action. They recently introduced legislation to require drug companies to provide 30 days’ notice and justification for any price increase over 10 percent. The bipartisan and bicameral Fair Accountability and Innovative Research (FAIR) Drug Pricing Act would require drug manufacturers to disclose and provide more information about planned drug price increases, including research and development costs.

If the pharmaceutical industry is unwilling or unable to reasonably price their products in a way that both protects access for patients in need and does not place an unnecessary financial burden on our health care system, then Congress must step in and act,” Durbin said. “We need more transparency around how drug prices are determined, which is why Representative Schakowsky and I introduced this legislation to hold drug companies accountable. We must penalize companies that price gouge, reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients, and demand that products developed with taxpayer funds are affordable to those very taxpayers.”


“The American public is demanding to know why life-saving prescription drugs – many developed with their taxpayer dollars – cost so much,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “The FAIR Drug Pricing Act will provide those answers.  Prescription drug corporations should not be allowed to hide behind a curtain, refusing to disclose information on drug prices and price gouging with impunity. Congress has sat by while Mylan increased the cost of life-saving EpiPens from $100 to over $600, while Gleevec, a cancer drug that came on the market at $30,000 now costs more than $100,000. The average cost of insulin has gone up 231%.  Now is the time for action.”


Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. grew by 12 percent in 2014, faster than in any year since 2002. Data shows that 46 percent of the most commonly prescribed drugs had a double-digit price increase in 2014. Since 2011, the‎ prices for four of our nation’s top ten drugs increased more than 100 percent, and the six others went up 50 percent.

Last year, Darapim – a 63-year old drug used by HIV/AIDS patients – went from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. Insulin – used by diabetic patients – has gone from $4.34 per-milliliter in 2002 to $12.92 per-milliliter in 2013. Naloxone auto injectors – used to save people suffering from an opioid overdose – have gone from $690 for a two-pack in 2014 to $4,500 this year. And the life-saving EpiPen Auto-Injector – a product that was once available for less than $100 – is now costing more than $600. 


The FAIR Drug Pricing Act would require drug manufacturers to notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and submit a transparency and justification report 30 days before they increase the price of certain drug products by more than 10 percent. The report will require manufacturers to provide a justification for each price increase, manufacturing, research and development costs for the qualifying drug, net profits attributable to the qualifying drug, marketing and advertising spending on the qualifying drug, and other information as deemed appropriate. 

Durbin recently joined 19 of his Senate colleagues calling on drug company Mylan to explain sharp price increases for its life-saving EpiPen‎.

Durbin and Schakowsky have fought for years to rein in prescription drug costs for American families. Earlier this Congress they introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, which would help lower drug costs for seniors and persons with disabilities by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. The legislation would provide an alternative to the confusing private prescription drug plans, marketing practices, and formulary changes that have made deciphering among Medicare Part D plans difficult.

Durbin is also a cosponsor of the CREATES Act, which would expedite consumers' access to more affordable generic drugs.