Sen Gillibrand in Syr: "Abolish ICE" & Fight for Lower RX Drug Prices

Jun 29, 2018

Crouse Hospital hosted Senator Gillibrand's visit to promote a bill to curb rising prescription drug prices. The hospital and its patients are struggling with the problem.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

Many Central New Yorkers worry about the costs of prescription drugs – whether that’s for prescriptions you’re now taking or medications you might need in the future.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a proposal to stop whet she’s calling ‘price gouging.’

The setting of a health care institution – Crouse hospital – served as the backdrop for Kirsten Gillibrand to announce her plan to keep prescription drug prices as affordable as possible.  She notes the average cost of medications jumped 9-percent last year, four times inflation. 

But some cases are much worse.

"A couple who the husband had cancer and his treatments were $5000-a month.  (said) 'I don't want to leave my wife destitute if I pass away.' And so he chose not to get that treatment, which means he died because he couldn't afford to spend the moneythat he needed to survive."

Crouse Medical Practice’s Medical Director Doctor Carl Butch says doctors don’t even find out when drug prices spike.

Dr. Carl Butch agrees that drug rising prices are making it hard on doctors and are not leading to better drugs or better patient outcomes.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

"When a pharmaceutical company steps in and changes the cost of a drug from $300-a-month to $6000-a-month, that's a huge problem for us.  Or when they take two generic medications that have been out for many years and cost pennies to produce, charging $3000-a-month, I think this is an important issue to tackle."

Right now, drug companies can raise prices whenever they want – without justification.  Some such as the epi-pen and certain cancer drugs have jumped tenfold or more, just to maximize profits on exclusive treatments.  Gillibrand’s bill she’s calling the “Stop Price Gouging Act” would:

  • Require pharmaceutical corporations to report any increases in the price of their products, as well as justification for any increases that exceed medical inflation, to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General, as well as to the public;
  • Impose a tax penalty on corporations that engage in excessive, unjustified price increases that are proportional to the size of the price spike;
  • Instruct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study examining how drug manufacturers establish initial launch prices and suggest best practices for monitoring new drug pricing; and
  • Reinvest penalties collected from companies in future drug research and development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

She notes the issue hasn’t been a priority of the administration.  

Gillibrand also made news today by calling for the elimination of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  She says what’s supposed to be for security is now copductiong raids and deporting peope as part of the zero tolerance border policy.

“It’s wrong. Congress needs to abolish ICE, and we need to start over, separating the criminal justice and immigration roles,” she said in a release. “Together, we can build a better system that is humane, just and recognizes that immigration adds to America's strength and security. We can’t let up until we get it.”

She further worries about the lasting effects of border policy and wants residents to speak up on the issue.

“The mistreatment of immigrant children and families is one of the most urgent crises we face. ICE has lost trust. It stokes fear. It has to go.  Raising our voices and refusing to let up is how we’ll change this country for the better. It’s the only way change has ever come. So please raise your voice now.”

Gillibrand is seeking reelection in November against Republican Chele Farley