U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a stop in Rochester Monday to announce a proposed bill package that would make prescriptions more affordable. The package includes three bills that would lower the cost of certain prescription drugs and increase access to lower-priced medicines sold outside the U.S. Gillibrand says drug prices have continually increased over the years, and the new legislation would make drugs more affordable for those who need them the most.
"Paying for those life-saving and life-changing drugs is harder than ever,” Gillibrand said. "I have talked to people all over New York about this issue. I've talked to older adults and people with disabilities who had to make the impossible choice between paying for their rent and paying for their medication."
The first of the three bills is the the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act. It would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for those who use Medicare Part D. Negotiations are prohibited under the current law.
The other two bills, the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act and the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, would align the prices of drugs sold in the U.S. to those sold in Canada and other countries where costs are lower and allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to purchase from those countries.
Gillibrand said that both bills intend to level the market for Americans who purchase pharmaceutical drugs.
New York State Assemblywoman Sarah Clark, who supports the effort, said the bills are common-sense solutions to a well-known problem.
"Before the COVID -19 pandemic hit, we knew many people in upstate New York were driving to Canada for lower drug costs. That hasn't been an option since the border's been closed," said Clark.
Gillibrand says the largest drug companies have profited during this national health crisis, and she wants Congress to support the new legislation.