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Clinton proposes $250 monthly cap on prescription drug costs

Hillary Clinton proposed a $250 monthly cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and other measures to stop what she called “price gouging” by pharmaceutical companies.

At a campaign stop in Iowa, Clinton rolled out a plan to encourage the development and use of generic drugs and to end pharmaceutical companies’ ability to write off consumer-directed advertising as a business expense.

Under Clinton’s plan, the monthly cap would limit what insurance companies could ask patients to pay for drugs that treat chronic or serious medical conditions.

“We need to protect hard-working Americans here at home from excessive costs. Too often these drugs cost a fortune,” she said.

Clinton’s comments came after the New York Times reported on how a startup biotech-nology company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of the 62-year-old Daraprim treatment for a dangerous parasitic infection to $750 a tablet from $13.50 after acquiring it.

In the face of sharp criticism, Turing’s chief executive officer, Martin Shkreli, told ABC’s World News Tonight on Tuesday that the price of Daraprim would be lowered “to a point that is more affordable.”

“Good,” tweeted Clinton in response to news of the planned price rollback.

The reforms would require approval by a Republican-dominated Congress that is unlikely to implement them.

Critics of marketing drugs to consumers say it encourages the use of costly brand names over generics and can be confusing or misleading.

Clinton said the government could get billions of dollars in additional tax revenue by no longer allowing pharmaceutical companies to deduct what they spend marketing drugs to consumers. The largest pharmaceutical companies are collectively earning $80 billion to $90 billion per year at higher margins than other industries Clinton’s campaign said.

Clinton also proposed a ban on ‘pay-for-delay agreements’, in which the owner of a brand-name drug pays a generic competitor to keep its product off the market for a period of time, usually as part of a litigation settlement.

Clinton said she wanted Medicare, the US government’s health insurance programme for the elderly, to be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices and require more generous rebates.

Consumers would also be allowed to purchase drugs from other countries so long as sufficient safety standards are in place, Clinton said.

She said her proposals would augment President Barack Obama’s healthcare law known as Obamacare. High drug costs had played a role in making families feel like healthcare costs were not coming under control, she said.

Traditional Big Pharma companies have long faced criticism for steadily raising prices of their prescription medicines in the US.

Drugmakers are unapologetic about their five- or six-digit prices on new treatments for diseases like: cancer, hepatitis C and high cholesterol. Sovaldi can cure hepatitis C but at a cost of $1,000 per pill.

Even more controversial have been increases in costs for older drugs in limited supply. They say the funds help cover research and development costs for new products.

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