Hillary Clinton Announces Program to Stop Price Gouging
She called the price hikes of the EpiPen outrageous and has accused Martin Shkreli the embattled pharma executive of price gouging on a anti-parasitic drug that is decades old.
On Friday, Clinton’s presidential campaign announced her plan of preventing companies from being able to exploit these types of older drugs, using fines and threatening to import other alternative treatments.
Clinton’s plan carefully delineated to target price hikes that are excessive on treatments that have been long standing which have not had major improvement and have little to no completion.
That is an attempt to reassure pharmaceutical companies that the intervention by the government will not squelch development of new expensive treatments.
According to her campaign, this initiative would be focused only on those drugs that no longer are protected by patents.
However, it raises a number of questions that could cause some discomfort amongst the drug industry. What for example determines a drug to be long standing. Given price increases take place on almost every drug, what will be deemed excessive.
Competition within the drug industry appears sometimes to have effects that are counterintuitive even increasing prices of drugs, therefore what will be counted as a fair amount of overall competition.
It is not clear either on how much the fines will be as well as if they will be fines or higher rebates.
Clinton, as a way of figuring the details out, proposes a new government watchdog that will be in charge of protecting the consumers from hikes in drug prices.
Of course, the details remain vague, but it would involve people from different federal agencies that overlook safety, heath and competition and receive the advisement of experts in drug pricing and patient advocates.
The group could make a line between increases in price that are acceptable and the ones that are excessive. When that line is crossed into territory deemed price gouging, the group could them place fines or allow the importing of drugs that are similar.
However, separating price hikes in drugs from being acceptable could be hard. Although businesses frequently are in hot water for prices that are high, these do not typically reflect the true prices that the insurance companies or the majority of patients actually pay due to rebates that remain secret.
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