Assembly Passes Bill on Prescription Drug Price Gouging

The State Assembly passed of legislation last week to prohibit medicine price gouging, calling it “an unscrupulous business practice.”  The bill was passed after cases of drug companies buying up old drugs in short supply and dramatically raising prices to the point of making them unaffordable.  There have been news accounts involving vendors that have inflated the price of blood pressure medication from the normal price per dose of $25.90 to $1,200.  Basically, the companies see a business opportunity to hold patients and the health care system hostage and now legislators are responding.

The bill passed 132-8.  The eight Republicans voted against the bill are:  Dipietro, Fitzpatrick, Friend, Katz, Lalor, Lawerence, Nojay, and Claudia Tenney who is running for Congress in Central New York.  Republican Senator Andrew Lanza is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate.

“These falsely inflated medicine prices are crippling the ability of hospitals and health care providers to deliver the quality of care that patients expect and deserve,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “This bill will give the attorney general the authority to crackdown on these abuses and stop these profiteers who are preying on the vulnerability of sick people.”

“Overpriced medicines have been burdening our health care system and hindering the treatment of very ill patients for too long,” said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, sponsor of the bill. “The bill the Assembly passed will help restore fairness to the pricing of high-demand medicines and discourage nefarious pharmaceutical sales strategies that seek to make big bucks off the lives of sick people who are struggling to regain their health.”

The Assembly’s legislation (A.6731, Crespo) adds medicines, those that are publicly posted as drugs in short supply by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to the list of goods and services that can be subjected to the state’s price gouging laws, and it empowers the state’s Attorney General to prosecute cases involving illegally priced medicines.

This anti-medicine gouging bill also permits the courts to determine when the price for a drug in short supply is unreasonably excessive and establishes the criteria for making such determinations.