Something’s gotta give

By Claire McCaskill

Few things make me more furious than when big, powerful corporations use their power to hurt struggling Americans just so they can turn a profit.

You might have heard about price-gouging, which is when pharmaceutical companies squeeze every dollar they can out of sick Americans by ballooning prices on lifesaving drugs.

This is how “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli got his fame, his nickname, and his seven-year jail sentence — he hiked up the price of a much-needed drug by more than 5,455%.

Yep, you read that right: 5,455% per pill.

Well, here we are two years later, and even under sharp scrutiny, these companies haven’t changed their behavior.

So in this moment — when tens of millions of Americans are turning over in bed every night, not knowing whether they can afford that lifesaving drug for their parent, spouse, child or sibling — I wanted to take just a second to let you know what I’m doing in the Senate to fight for better, cheaper, fairer drug prices for you and your loved ones.

  1. I’m leading a bipartisan investigation into a pharmaceutical company that all of a sudden shot up the price of a 40-year-old cancer drug used to treat brain tumors and Hodgkin lymphoma. The drug’s price has spiked just about 1,400% since 2013 — so now I’m demanding that the company’s CEO give Americans some much-deserved answers about why they suddenly need to pay so much more for the exact same treatment.
  2. Tell me how this makes any sense: Right now, taxpayers actually pay to subsidize Big Pharma companies’ ads — to the tune of more than $6 billion a year. I think that’s downright absurd, so I’m pushing forward legislation that would put an end to this practice, making sure Americans no longer have to open their checkbooks just so Big Pharma can add to its profits.
  3. Prescription drugs aren’t a luxury item — for many, these drugs are a lifesaving necessity, and Missouri families shouldn’t have to choose between their prescriptions and their groceries. That’s why I spearheaded policy that would increase competition among generic drugs to bring down the cost of prescriptions, and I was beyond thrilled that this bill became law last August.

Imagine if you went to a car dealership and last year’s exact model was being sold at a 20% mark-up — then you went back the next year and it happened again. And again. And again.

That’s exactly what’s happening in the prescription drug industry. Missourians deserve better. You deserve better. And that’s why I’ll never shy away from fighting for honest-to-goodness fair prescription prices — no matter how mad that makes Big Pharma or how much they spend to kick me out of office.