Rising Rx Drug Prices: What's on the Table Now

Topics: Costs and Prices, Access to Care, Health Care Reform, Prescription Drugs, Elections, 2016, Federal Government, Health Care Legislation, State Government

As we laid out yesterday, there have been many programs implemented to improve prescription drug access, whether they are for specific conditions like HIV/AIDS or for specific populations, like Medicare beneficiaries.

Today, the proposals seem much more broad-reaching, aiming to tackle some of the big picture issues of how much drug companies spend on research and development to opening up where Americans can buy their drugs from.

Below, we outline the current proposals on the table from presidential hopefuls [former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)] and state and federal lawmakers [Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)].

Proposal: Cap consumer cost-sharing
Who supports it: Hillary Clinton
Details: Clinton would prevent health plans from charging consumers more than $250 a month in copayments for prescription drugs.

Proposal: Make prescription drug pricing process more transparent
Who supports it: Bernie Sanders, Elijah Cummings, as well as several states (Massachusetts, New York, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Oregon)
Details: The Sanders-Cummins legislation would require drug companies to tell the federal government how they price drugs, including their research and development costs. Companies also would be required to disclose any federal benefits they have received, such as tax credits, as well as prices and profits for drugs sold in other countries. Similar legislation has also been proposed in at least seven states.

Proposal: Force companies to spend certain portion of revenue on research and development
Who supports it: Hillary Clinton
Details: Clinton has said that if drugmakers fail to comply, they would be penalized by a loss of federal support, such research grants or tax credits.

Proposal: Allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies
Who supports it: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders
Details: Both Clinton and Sanders want Medicare to be able to negotiate the prices it will pay for prescription drugs directly with the medications' makers.

Proposal: Allow U.S. consumers to buy medications from Canada
Who supports it: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders
Details: This is a proposal that has come up in the past, and the two Democratic presidential front-runners say they would like to allow people in the U.S. to purchase their medications from Canada, where they are often cheaper.

Proposal: Speed generic drugs' entry into the market
Who supports it: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders
Details: Clinton has said she supports  expedited approval processes for biosimilars, the generic versions of biologics. Both Clinton and Sanders also would prevent so-called "pay for delay" deals in which brand-name drugmakers pay generic companies to delay their products' entry into the market.

--research by Julia Haskins, Rob Reeve and Rachel Schulze