© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Gillibrand Introduces Bills To Lower Prescription Drug Costs

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stands at the West Islip Senior Center with Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter and Suffolk Independent Living Organization CEO Joseph Delgado to announce a package of three bills to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
COURTESY OFFICE OF SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND
/
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stands at the West Islip Senior Center with Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter and Suffolk Independent Living Organization CEO Joseph Delgado to announce a package of three bills to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies have made billions in profits by raising prescription drug costs making necessary medicine no longer affordable, said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand and other lawmakers have introduced three bills that would lower drug costs, cutting expenses in half. She said Americans pay the most for their prescriptions compared to other countries.

People living on a fixed income during the pandemic, whether they are unemployed or seniors, are the most impacted. One woman that Gillibrand spoke with said that she was rationing her insulin because of the expense.

“This is an issue that affects so many people,” Gillibrand said. “New Yorkers are being forced to make impossible decisions between picking up their prescriptions and buying groceries. Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.”

About 30% percent of adults say they have not taken their medicine as prescribed in the past 12 months due to the costs, she said.

The Prescriptions Drug Price Relief Act is one of the bills. It would match U.S. drug prices with countries that have lower prices. Gillibrand said it could save the federal government $456 billion over 10 years.

“That’s money we could use to help address so many challenges that so many New Yorkers are facing right now,” she said, “from access to healthcare, to affordable childcare.”

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter joined Gillibrand this week at the West Islip Senior Center to announce the legislation. Carpenter said these bills would benefit the estimated 73,000 senior residents living on Long Island.

“When one in four Americans can’t afford their medicine when three out of ten adults say they haven't taken their medication as prescribed in the past year because they can’t afford their medication and when approximately 19 million people say they or someone in their family has imported a drug from another country to get a lower price, we know something is wrong,” said Carpenter.

The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices for patients who receive medication under Medicare. The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act would allow cheaper medicine from other countries to be imported safely.

“Right now, life-saving medicine is only life-saving if you can afford it,” said Gillibrand.