Health & Wellness

New Brunswick's Rep. Pallone to Introduce Bill to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. greets members of the Piscataway Senior Center where he announced proposed legislation to reduce prescription drug costs. Credits: Kenneth Simmons
Piscataway Mayor, Brian C. Wahler greets members of the Piscataway Senior Center Credits: Kenneth Simmons
Ronald Rios, Middlesex County Freeholder Director greets members of the Piscataway Senior Center Credits: Kenneth Simmons
Congressman Pallone to Introduce Bill to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors and Working Families Credits: Kenneth Simmons

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Reducing the high cost of prescription medication was the lunchtime topic at the Piscataway Senior Center on Monday, where Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-6) announced his proposed legislation for drug price controls and how the federal government could require drug makers to be more accountable and transparent when it comes to pricing and production information.

His proposed legislation, slated for introduction this fall, would help reduce the cost of those prescriptions for seniors and working families, he said.

“Prescription drug prices are higher than ever, and American families and our health care system are suffering from staggering price hikes,” Pallone, the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees healthcare, said. “It’s time to find workable solutions that will encourage the development of affordable and high-quality drugs.”

Sign Up for E-News

Pallone, who has an office in New Brunswick, is also calling for Medicare to be able to help negotiate the costs of brand name and generic forms of drugs with pharmaceutical companies.

“The feds could do more to control costs since they already negotiate rates for the military, which could be done for others,” he said, adding that annual drug spending is expected to reach more than $500 billion in the U.S. next year.

He said the governments of other countries negotiate drug costs on behalf of their citizens. But Americans subsidize the shortfall to the drug makers, he said, which fattens the prices charged here.

“As Americans, we shouldn’t be carrying the cost of other countries’ drugs due to their negotiated contracts,” Pallone said, adding that the bill would also cement controls for biologics or generic drugs.

While a pharmaceutical company holds the patent for a drug, no other version of the drug can be produced, even with the use of other ingredients. However, when the patent expires, some of those companies try to block generic forms from being made, Pallone said, which often cost consumers less.

The proposed bill would require drug makers to provide more production information and safety records when the patent expires.

“You can’t use safety and other reasons to keep others from producing a generic version of a drug,” Pallone said.

But even with lower cost generics available, Pallone acknowledged that some seniors will continue to use only the more expensive brand names because of the perception that they are safer.

Christine Harris, a member of the senior center who attended the announcement, said she expects price controls to help her friends and family who pay high deductibles for their prescriptions. They could also make up for spending overages at the end of the year, she said.

“If they can close the gap, it would be great for most folks,” Harris said of the proposed bill. “The costs of the drugs definitely need to go down, so we don’t have to go outside of the US or online to get our medications.”

Lowering the cost of prescription drugs is a major part of the Democrats’ Better Deal agenda, which, among other items, targets lowering the cost of living for families.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - March 23, 2018


TRENTON - It's good to live in a state where the NRA is about as reviled as the act of putting peanut butter on a bagel. That's why we aren't worried about a NRA "alert" to members, urging them to contact Assembly members to vote "No" on a host of bills up Monday in Trenton. That includes sensible legislation that ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 22, 2018


STATEWIDE - It's been excruciating to write about snow; there's only so much you can blindly repeat without sounding like a 24-hour news channel. The final totals: 14 inches in the central and southern part of the state, and at least 5 inches in all northern counties. Yippee.  As of 6 a.m. this morning, the utility companies were ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 21, 2018


STATEWIDE - Utility companies are dragging themselves back into the war room this morning, preparing for another day of downed wires, public scorn and mounting pressure from the governor's office to magically keep all the lights on. One would assume the utilities are still trying to patch up fragile networks from the back-to-back nor'easters that ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 20, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - The governor has targeted The Hub City as the new hub for innovation and technology. Gov. Phil Murphy was in town yesterday to meet with city, business and Rutgers officials to chat about how all the ongoing downtown investment will be a magnet for scientific and technological innovation, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 19, 2018


TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 16, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Another commuting mess this morning, as the antiquated Portal Bridge got stuck in the "up" position at 4:22 a.m.  That caused a bunch of rush hour trains to be cancelled between Newark and Manhattan for four hours or so.  Both NJTransit and Amtrak riders were completely screwed. You may recall the proposed Gateway ...

Rutgers to close for Wednesday storm

March 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - With the likelihood of more than a foot of snow set to dump on New Jersey, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi has declared a weather emergency closure for all three campuses: New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden.

School will be closed for students and all non-essential employees from 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 21 to 5 a.m. Thursday, March 22.

Rutgers Student on Front Lines of Orangutan Conservation, Research

NEW BRUNSWICK - Deep in a tropical forest in Borneo 15 years ago, Rutgers student Didik Prasetyo first encountered a young male orangutan that he named “Jerry.”

The great ape was one of several orangutans that Prasetyo and other researchers followed at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area in Indonesia. Prasetyo was skeptical when colleagues said ...

RU police investigate assault on Douglass campus

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University police are investigating an aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault  reported to March 14 at 3:55 a.m. in front of Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus.


The victim, not affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that she was walking with a male whom she did not know in the area of Commercial Avenue and George ...

City opens 6th ‘supportive’ housing complex, 12 units provide aid people who lost homes

March 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – In a continuing effort to eliminate homelessness, city and county officials this month opened 12 units of low-cost and subsidized housing in a complex designed to provide counseling and support services for its residents.

Zebra Way, named for the street on which it is located off Van Dyke Avenue, is expected to have residents move in next month.

Tenants, including ...


DEP Control Ensures Protection for New Jersey's Vulnerable Birds

March 23, 2018

Dear Editor: In January, the Department of Environmental Protection regained control of the state-owned North Brigantine Natural Area when a long-term management agreement with the city of Brigantine expired. DEP introduced new permitting guidelines which will greatly reduce human disturbance and increase protections for shore birds. NJ Audubon applauds the DEP for its efforts to better ...

Congress Passes $5 Million for Delaware River Basin Restoration Program

March 23, 2018

TRENTON – The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) has received $5 million in funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending bill approved by Congress. The bill will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed worked with Congress on the authorization of the Delaware River Basin ...