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Bill would make inflated prices on prescription meds illegal

Democratic senator proposed the bill that would make price gouging a federal offense

A Democratic senator in New York wants to make price gouging of prescription drugs a federal crime. Charles E. Schumer proposed a bill that would allow the Department of Justice to crack down on drug distributors inflating the prices on prescription medications that are in short supply.

According to a report by the Associated Press, this year has seen unusual shortages of normally common, inexpensive drugs—mostly injectable medications for cancer, pain, infections, liquid nutrition and anesthesia—used mostly in hospitals. The shortages have resulted in an uptick of drug vendors selling the medications at inflated prices. In September, the AP reported that at least 15 deaths since mid-2010 could be attributed to the drug shortages.

"Forcing hospitals to buy life-saving medications at outrageously inflated prices is unquestionably unethical, and with this legislation it would be illegal, too," Schumer said in a statement.

On Monday, Schumer’s spokesman said the senator is currently working toward lining up co-sponsors of the bill.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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