Sarah Godlewski 012422 03-01242022131308 (copy)

Wisconsin Treasurer and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Godlweski on Monday released her second policy paper of the campaign, this time with a focus on lowering prescription drug costs and pushing transparency among pharmaceutical companies.

Wisconsin Treasurer and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Godlweski on Monday released her second policy paper of the campaign, this time with a focus on lowering prescription drug costs and pushing transparency among pharmaceutical companies.

The proposal from Godlewski comes just weeks after her first package of ideas, which was geared at addressing issues affecting rural Wisconsinites by bolstering telehealth access and creating tax carveouts for farm families.

In Monday’s proposal, Godlewski said she would support legislation that would allow the Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare. Medicare is federal health insurance for people 65 and older. As of October 2021, there were more than 63 million Americans enrolled in Medicare, according to federal data.

A “non-interference clause” in federal law currently prevents the federal government from intervening in the negotiations between drug companies and the private companies that administer parts of Medicare as it pertains to drug costs.

Allowing the federal government to negotiate those prices directly, as Godlewski’s plan calls for, would likely lower out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for Medicare enrollees. The proposal has widespread support among Americans. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll from last spring found that 88% of people were in favor of “allowing the federal government to negotiate for lower prices on medications.”

Godlewski told the Cap Times in an interview that legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate prices hasn’t been approved by Congress yet because “too many politicians are in the pocket of Big Pharma.” She pledged Monday to reject campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies.

Godlewski also wants to create an “international price index” to help Americans see if they are being “gouged” by drug manufacturers at the pharmacy.

She said the index would consider drug costs in countries such as France, Canada, the United Kingdom and others. She said the index, which will show how much cheaper it is to pay for prescription drugs in other countries, will help U.S. officials bring down drug costs by proving to drug manufacturers that they can still turn a profit while selling their products at much lower costs.

The state treasurer also wants to create out-of-pocket caps for how much Medicare enrollees can spend on prescription drugs in a year. Godlewski said she’d also like to see the federal government set caps on how much pharmaceutical companies can charge for widely used drugs, like insulin.

“Pharmaceutical companies are selling this life-saving drug (insulin) at prices that are way beyond what they need from a reasonable profit margin,” she said.

Godlewski also wants to require pharmaceutical companies to repay tax credits or research grants they received from the federal government if they are found to be price gouging consumers.

Monday’s proposal also includes a provision that would require drug manufacturers, if they receive federal money, to report how much it cost them to develop a drug.

“I think that if corporations have no problem taking a government handout to help develop a drug — whether it's in a grant form or in a tax credit form … they should have no problem on the back end … letting us know how much their research and development costs are,” Godlewski said.

She said the added transparency will help remove some opacity in drug manufacturers’ claims that they need to charge high prices because it is financially intensive to develop drugs.

Godlewski envisions some combination of HHS and the FDA overseeing this reporting process.

She also told the Cap Times she wants to see updates to patent laws related to drug manufacturing. Under current law, pharmaceutical companies maintain the exclusive rights to manufacture a drug they develop for 12 years. Often, when that 12-year mark is approaching, manufacturers will make small updates to drugs and ask for new patents.

Godlewski said she’d try to cut back on “patent thicketing” among drug companies so generic manufacturers could produce medications sooner. Having more generic drugs in the market, she said, will help lower the costs of prescription drugs for Americans.

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