Castor Touts Bills To Fight Rising Drug Costs

Aug 24, 2017
Originally published on August 24, 2017 7:10 am

There are few laws in place to keep prescription drug companies from raising their prices to levels unaffordable for many people.

For example, the cost of an EpiPen - used to combat allergic reactions - is up 500 percent since 2007, now costing more than $600 for two injectors.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa, is co-sponsoring two federal bills that would help prevent what she calls "price gouging."

"If these type of rules had been in place, you wouldn't have seen the skyrocketing cost increases like the EpiPen and insulin, because frankly, there is no justification for a lot of the cost increases that we're seeing” Castor said.

One bill would give Medicare Part D the ability to negotiate drug prices. The other bill, called the "Fair Drug Pricing Act,” would require drug companies to notify Health and Human Services and justify cost increases.

At the local level, some medical professionals are also employing their own best practices to help patients.

Faisel Syed, the chief medical officer at Tampa Family Health Centers, said their doctors and pharmacists work together to find the best drugs, and drug prices, for patients.

"For example, if I want to prescribe a patient Albuterol, there are several different brands of Albuterol,” Syed said. “One may cost three or four times more than another. So I'll write for Albuterol and [pharmacist Jeff Parrado] will say, 'well, this is Albuterol, this is Albuterol - and this one over here is the best price for you."