Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, is cosponsoring four key pieces of legislation aimed at lowering drug prices and increasing transparency.

Coons is a cosponsor of the Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Prices Act, which will allow Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs and cut costs for nearly 300,000 Delaware seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.

He is also co-sponsoring the SPIKE ACT, RxCAP Act and C-THRU Act to hold drug manufacturers accountable for exorbitant price increases, cap out-of-pocket prescription drug spending for Medicare Part D beneficiaries and require more transparency for rebates negotiated on behalf of drug manufacturers and distributors to ensure they directly benefit patients.

“We have to take action to address the rising cost of prescription drugs, which is placing an inordinate burden on Delaware families,” said Coons. “Today, too many seniors are forced to choose between paying for their medication and buying groceries, and too many individuals are paying thousands — even tens of thousands — of dollars for prescriptions their lives quite literally depend upon. “Our biggest challenge is that we want to continue to have new inventions and discoveries – we want news cures for cancer, and we want new treatments for asthma – but those inventions and discoveries only go so far if American families cannot afford them. These bills represent meaningful steps we can take right now to lower drug prices in a responsible way and ensure Delawareans can get the medications they need.”

The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate price discounts with drug companies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. Current law prohibits Medicare from using its purchasing power to negotiate lower prices from prescription drug companies.

The Stopping the Pharmaceutical Industry from Keeping Drugs Expensive, or SPIKE Act, would require drug manufacturers to publicly report their justification for exorbitant increases in drug prices. For example, if a pharmaceutical company raises the price of one of their drugs by at least 100 percent over the course of a year, under the SPIKE Act, they would be required to submit justification for that significant increase. Under current law, drug manufacturers are not required to publicly report increases in the list price, and there is no mechanism to deter them from significantly raising their drug prices over time.

The RxCAP Act would eliminate all cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part D above the current out-of-pocket threshold. Under current law, Medicare Part D provides coverage above the threshold only with cost-sharing in the form of either copayment or coinsurance.

The C-THRU Act is a bill requiring that information related to the rebates negotiated between pharmacy benefit managers and drug manufacturers be made available to the public. The SPIKE ACT, RXCAPS Act and C-THRU Act were introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

Last Congress, the Senate passed and the president signed a Coons-backed bill that would remove “gag clauses,” which prohibit pharmacists from telling consumers about a less expensive alternative. Coons will continue working in the Senate toward safe, effective, bipartisan solutions to address prescription drug costs for Delaware families.