Durbin: We Should Protect American Consumers From Outrageous Prices On Prescription Drugs

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin praised the Biden Administration for announcing the first 10 drugs under Medicare that will be subject to the Inflation Reduction Act’s new fair price negotiation program

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor emphasizing the Inflation Reduction Act’s benefit to patients following the Biden Administration’s recent announcement of the first 10 drugs that would be negotiated forlower prices, based upon new authority passed by Democrats in Congress and signed into law by President Biden.

These 10 medications cost Medicare a total of more than $50 billion last year alone.  In 2022, seniors nationwide spent more than $3 billion on copays for these 10 drugs, with an estimated 132,000 Illinois seniors each spending an average of $500 out-of-pocket on Eliquis, a blood thinner medication. 

Durbin said, “Most Americans agree that the cost of prescription drugs is too high.  Most Americans agree that President Biden has done the right thing by reducing the monthly cost of insulin to $35 so that millions of people facing diabetes can afford their medication.  Most Americans agree that it is almost impossible to explain why American drug companies sell the same drugs in Canada for a fraction of the cost they charge American consumers.  Most Americans also agree that the number one driver in the cost of health insurance premiums is the cost of prescription drugs.”

The Veterans Administration (VA) has long held the power to negotiate prescription drug costs.  As a result, the VA pays an average of half of what Medicare pays for the same drugs.

“We should be able to negotiate reasonable pricing for pharmaceutical drugs and Medicare, just as we do for the Veterans Administration.  That's what President Biden suggested,” Durbin continued.

The U.S. is one of only two countries in the world where Big Pharma is able to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers.  Big Pharma relies on $6 billion in annual media advertising to market their drugs and entice Americans to ask their doctors for these medicines by name, even if a generic drug is available for their condition or another intervention is appropriate. While these advertisements and marketing campaigns pad Big Pharma’s own profit margins, consumers are kept in the dark on the price of the advertised medication often until they pick up their prescriptions at the pharmacy.  To enhance transparency when Big Pharma bombards the airwaves with advertisements, Durbin introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Drug-price Transparency for Consumers (DTC) Act, that would require price disclosures on advertisements for prescription drugs.

Durbin concluded, “We want Americans to have access to affordable, effective drugs, whether they're buying them as a private citizen or through programs like Medicare or Medicaid… I call it commonsense. We should protect American consumers from high-priced prescription drugs… I think most Americans believe it is a reasonable approach.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.