Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday pushed for legislation that would prevent prescription drug price gouging — legislation that she hopes to reintroduce in the Senate.
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she first introduced the bill, the Stop Price Gouging Act, with Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown during the last Congressional session, and hopes the now-Democratic majority in the House can help see it through.
"So now you have a Congress that is at least willing to hold drug companies accountable to meet the needs of all of our patients," Gillibrand said, speaking at her Manhattan offices on Sunday. "I think this is something that transcends politics. It’s not whether you’re a Democrat or Republican — every community, every family is suffering because of price gouging … I feel more optimistic now than I ever have, so I’m hoping I can reintroduce this bill with some Republican support in the Senate."
If passed, the bill would require drug companies to report and justify price increases. Gillibrand said the bill would also penalize increases considered unjustified, and use the fines to fund such endeavors as medical research.
"It meets the needs of families, it meets the needs of people who are desperately suffering and need access to basic medicine," she said.
Gillibrand also pushed the idea of having Medicare be able to negotiate drug prices, and said that people should be able to buy their prescription drugs in another country if the price is cheaper.
"Here’s what I believe: Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege," she said. "Healthcare and access to the right medicine can be lifesaving… So these are the kinds of common sense bills that we should pass now."