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East County News Service

November 10, 2015 (Washington D.C.) – Amid a public outcry over soaring prescription drug prices, President Barack Obama’s administration has announced it will hold a public forum on drug prices on November 20th.

A spotlight on the problem arose last month amid revelations that hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli raised prices overnight on a drug to treat life-threatening infections – from $13.50 to $750. 

The forum will include consumers, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies as well as other stakeholders, the Hill reports.

“The high and growing cost of drugs has created hardship for families, employers, and states,” the invitation states. “Specialty medications represent only 1% of all prescriptions but, in 2014, these medications resulted in over 31% of all drug spending.”

Senator Bernie Sanders first drew attention to the issue on the presidential campaign trail and Hillary Clinton also quickly jumped on board; both candidates have denounced hefty drug price hikes and rolled out plans to control prescription drug prices, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate mass discounts, a plan the pharmaceutical industry opposes.

Drug prices rose 12.6 percent last year, the highest growth since 2002, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that 77% of those polled ranked making sure high-cost drugs are affordable as their top health priority, including 73% of Republicans polled.


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