Minnesota Senator Introducing Legislation to Target Abusive Pharmaceutical Business Practices

(KNSI) – Minnesota Senator Tina Smith is introducing three pieces of legislation to combat rising drug prices and target abusive business practices within the pharmaceutical industry.

The bills come following a House Oversight Committee’s three-year investigation into pharmaceutical pricing and business practices that exposed pharmaceutical company practices to suppress competition from lower-priced generics and biosimilars and make drug prices unaffordable for many Americans.

The first bill, the Discounted Drugs for Clinical Trials Act, amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to grant eligible researchers access to expensive drugs or biological products for research purposes at a price no higher than the cost to manufacture.

Smith explains that when big drug companies develop medicine, they get market exclusivity for a certain period to reap the benefits of their innovation, which Smith says she has no problem with. It’s what companies do to extend the patent that creates an issue and gave an example of a US drugmaker that invented a cancer treatment. She says they “made $ 6 billion from their product and charging patients $ 200,000 a year to use it.” Then Smith says, “when researchers wanted to get access to that medicine in order to do some clinical trials to develop generic alternatives, all within the patent requirements, they were charging those researchers $ 200 million to get access to the drug.”

She says her bill would ban practices like that and force drug companies to be transparent about what they’re spending money on.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Transparency Act would increase public transparency into the costs of clinical trials, which pharmaceutical companies do not currently disclose.

Smith says big drug companies use the excuse of exorbitant prices by claiming they’re passing on the costs for research and development, but she says, “what it looks like is that the money is just going to profit. It’s not to pay off their research expense. So another one of the bills that we have introduced, would say, okay, tell us how much you’re spending on r & d. Tell us how much clinical trials are costing, and make that transparent to the public so that we can judge for ourselves, whether the money that you’re charging us three times more than what you’re charging people in other countries is actually going to r & d, or is it actually not just going into your CEOs pockets. ”

According to the Star Tribunethe former UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann made $ 142.2 million in 2021, which may be the “biggest ever compensation package for a Minnesota-based public company.”

Read more about the bills by clicking here.

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