The question that Craig Ross posed to GOP presidential contender Marco Rubio on Saturday brought gasps from a roomful of hundreds.
“My wife has bone cancer,” began Ross of Winterset, Iowa. “Her medication just jumped to $60,000 a month.
“What can you do to help us?”
Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, told the gathering in Johnston, Iowa, that federal regulations must be loosened to spur more competition in the drug industry. As is, only pharmaceutical giants can afford the costs of years of testing needed before medicines get approved, he said.
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But Rubio allowed that free enterprise can’t be left to completely regulate itself.
“Some (drug) companies are charging whatever they can get away with,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with calling them out...
“We want there to be strict standards but not so strict that we can’t get alternatives and competitors into the marketplace. That’s where you get your $60,000 medicine.”
Ross later told The Star that more competition probably is the best long-term solution to outrageous drug prices, “but, unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s realistically going to happen.”
“Thank goodness most of our costs our taken care of through Medicare,” added Ross, who said he is a Rubio supporter.
Polls show Rubio climbing out of the middle of the pack in Iowa. He has made fewer visits to the state than several other Republican candidates, but the Des Moines Register has reported his media ads will account for a third of all political ads slated to air until caucus day, Feb 1.