Hillary Clinton has revealed a comprehensive policy to tackle the prices of prescription drugs. Her plan was teased on Sept. 21 and then discussed at length during a campaign stop in Iowa on Sept. 22, timed in response to public outrage over the dramatic price increase of a lifesaving drug.
Turing Pharmaceuticals recently acquired rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat a common ailment of AIDS and cancer patients. The company increased the cost of the drug to $750 per pill, over 5,000 percent more than the original price tag of $13.50.
CEO Martin Shkreli quickly became a target of public disgust, with various media outlets labeling him “the most hated man in America.” In response to the online pressure and reported death threats, Shkreli announced his company will lower the cost of Daraprim, although he has yet to disclose by how much.
The alleged price gouging of Daraprim brought the issue of pharmaceuticals to the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign. In an August survey, more than 70 percent of Americans voiced frustration with the prescription drug pricing and concern that public health takes a backseat to drug companies’ bottom line, USA Today reports.
“That is not the way the market is supposed to work," Clinton said in response to the Daraprim incident. "That is bad actors making a fortune off of people’s misfortune. Pharmaceutical companies can charge astronomical fees, far beyond anything it would take to recoup their investment and far beyond.”
Her proposal is designed to forcibly put research and development of cheap and effective drugs for the public ahead of corporate profits.
First, drug companies would be required to invest taxpayer money given to them by the federal government into research and development instead of splurging on advertising, which already earns them generous tax breaks.
Second, the time window that a drug company can exclusively produce a specific treatment would be limited. After a certain period of time, the company would be required to allow the drug to become generically produced for competitive prices in the market.
Third, patients with chronic illnesses would have to pay no more than $250 a month for prescription medications.
Fourth, Clinton’s plan would allow for Americans to import their drugs from overseas markets, where they are often much less expensive.
Lastly, her proposal calls for Medicare to be enabled to negotiate with drug companies over prices, which would help lower the costs of drugs produced with minimal market competition.
"[Drug companies] should be focused on results that benefit us, not just [their] shareholders and [their] executives,’’ Clinton said.