Prescription drug companies continue to price-gouge Georgia residents by employing anti-competitive practices that put profits ahead of people. Take EpiPen for example — a drug I need to keep on me at all times in case of an emergency.

In 2007, a drug company named Mylan purchased EpiPen, which at the time retailed for approximately $100. Mylan embarked on an extensive marketing campaign to promote EpiPen as a name brand and household product. At the same time, the company repeatedly hiked the price of EpiPen and challenged attempts by potential competitors to develop alternatives. By 2016, the cost of EpiPens had skyrocketed to more than $600, despite manufacturing costs remaining as low as $35 per pen.

Mylan’s behavior resulted in a 500% spike in the price of this lifesaving medication in less than 10 years.

This anecdote should, in and of itself, demonstrate the importance and urgent need for legislation that will take steps toward addressing the out-of-control price of prescription drugs.

In Georgia, the out-of-control price of prescription medications has become an unsustainable burden for too many families. Whether patients who need a product like EpiPen to be safe, diabetics who require insulin to survive, families dealing with a serious illness or seniors, many on a fixed income, who need medications to stay healthy and enjoy a good quality of life.

Voters across the country agree prescription drug prices are a top concern headed into this year’s election. And despite the escalating crisis of affordability, Big Pharma continues to go about business as usual. Big Pharma started 2020 by hiking prices on hundreds of drugs thousands of times.

While Georgia families struggle to afford their prescription medications, Big Pharma and their army of lobbyists are spending record sums to prevent sensible legislation from being passed. The pharmaceutical industry spent a whopping $29 million lobbying against market-based solutions to lower drug prices last year alone.

Georgians are struggling, and we need our leaders in Washington to act.

The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, which passed out of the Senate Committee on Finance last July, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Ron Wyden, that includes a number of market-based measures that have won support from both sides of the aisle – including the vocal support of President Trump.

The bill would increase competition, boost list price transparency and support increased use of biosimilar drugs. The bill would keep growth of prescription drug prices in line with inflation, would give more power to consumers and would provide out-of-pocket relief for seniors who rely on Medicare Part D for their prescription drug coverage. The legislation would also shift liability to drug companies in the catastrophic phase of Part D – giving manufacturers skin in the game and a reason to think twice about unsustainable price hikes.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found the Grassley-Wyden plan would save patients and taxpayers $130 billion and also deliver relief for patients who have private insurance.

For millions of Americans like me who rely on prescription medications to stay healthy and maintain peace of mind, these are necessary solutions.

We are counting on Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to deliver on Congress’ promise to lower prescription drug prices by getting the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act passed now.

It’s time to side with patients and hold Big Pharma accountable.

Katie Cagle, of Ball Ground, is a college student and chairs the Youth Engagement Committee for the Georgia Republican Party.

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