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Wyden Visits Oregon Pharmacies To Promote Drug Price Control

Brian Bull

Pharmaceutical prices are too high, says U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, the Oregon Democrat has been visiting drug stores around the state touting a bipartisan plan to tackle costs.

Wyden and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa rolled out a bill earlier this summer.  Largely focused on the Medicare prescription drug program known as Part D, it’d protect senior citizens by imposing a spending cap.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
A couple inquires about their prescriptions at River Road Health Mart during Senator Wyden's visit.

At River Road Health Mart in Eugene, Wyden says the legislation would also require pharmacy benefit managers – or PBMs– to reveal more about discounts they negotiate between drug manufacturers and insurers. 

“These PBMs are big, there’s really only a handful of them in the country," says Wyden.  "They keep squeezing the pharmacy in Oakridge and the pharmacy here. There’s no question in my mind the PBMs would like to put you all out of business.”

Oregon AARP Council Member Jim Botwinis backs Wyden’s plan.

“Been fighting cancer for six plus years now," he tells KLCC.  "The drugs when I first started taking them were about $6,000 a month.  And now they’re over $15,000 a month.”

The bill recently passed the Senate Finance Committee, and is now headed to the full U.S. Senate for a possible vote.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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