WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) today called on the Obama administration to address “staggering increases” in generic drug prices.
“The federal government must act immediately and aggressively to address the increasing costs of these drugs,” Sanders and Cummings wrote in a letter to Sylvia Burwell, the Department of Health and Human Services secretary.
Prices for many generic drugs used to treat everything from common medical conditions to life-threatening illnesses have “recently risen at alarming rates,” the lawmakers wrote.
Sanders, chairman of a Senate health care subcommittee, and Cummings, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, earlier asked top executives at 14 pharmaceutical companies to explain price increases for specific generic drugs. The drugmakers have until Oct. 23 to respond.
In their separate letter to the HHS secretary, Cummings and Sanders cited examples of dramatic price increases for generic drugs like the asthma medication, Albuterol Sulfate, which went from $11 to $424 in less than a year. The price for a bottle of antibiotic pills, Doxycycline Hyclate, shot up to $1,849 from only $20 last fall, they added. “These huge price increases are affecting the pocketbooks and health of millions of Americans,” they wrote.
In addition to the impact on consumers, hospitals and home health agencies, Sanders and Cummings said rapidly-increasing generic drug prices also are putting strains on the budgets for Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The issue has touched a nerve among consumers. More than 1,500 people have written to Sanders and Cummings about their personal experiences with drug price increases.
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