Bill aims to stop price gouging of prescription drugs - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Bill aims to stop price gouging of prescription drugs

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SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers want to put a stop to skyrocketing drug prices.

HB 4900, nicknamed the "Pharma Bro Act" after former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, would allow the Attorney General to fine companies that price gouge prescription drugs.

It's a response to cases like when Shkreli raised the price of an AIDS drug by 5,000 percent.

"In recent years, we've heard horror stories of prices of live-saving drugs skyrocketing overnight, leaving those who need them to survive, facing financial ruin," Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) said.

Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) sponsors the bill in the House.

"These companies are buying the rights to manufacture existing drugs and the very worst of these companies are using those rights to profiteer off the sick and the vulnerable in our state and across the country," Guzzardi said.

Ben Calcaterra, a pharmacist at Logan Primary Pharmacy in Herrin and Chairman of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, said the bill has good intentions.

"Some bad apples in the market do unfortunately play by a different set of rules where they decide that they just want to increase price, without really a real piece of good evidence behind their reasoning why," Calcaterra said.

But he thinks the bill can go even farther.

"I think there may be some holes in only specifying that the state-paid health insurance plans and state medicaid plans are the only ones that are allowed to report these price gouging instances to the attorney general," Calcaterra said.

He believes if regular consumers can report price-gouging, the bill will have a more dramatic effect on drug prices.

Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) voted against the bill last month in the House, saying it needs to be more specific about what price gouging actually means.

"There's got to be some quantifiable factors and in that bill, there aren't any," Severin said.

The bill passed in the House, largely along party lines, and now it awaits a vote in a Senate committee.

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