EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) - Six months into her role as a senator Tina Smith is taking on the pharmaceutical industry.
Sen. Smith has presented two bills this year that aim to lower prescription drug costs.
"It's amazing how little transparency there is and how drug prices get set and what goes into that pricing,” said Smith.
Lija Greenseid of St. Paul says she spends around $700 a month on insulin for her daughter who has Type One Diabetes.
In 2016, the Greenseid family took a nine month trip around the world. Buying insulin for their daughter overseas became an adventure in itself.
“The first time we tried this we walked into a pharmacy and we said, ‘How do we get insulin? Do we need to see a doctor? Do we have to have a prescription?’ And they said, ‘Oh no you can just buy it from us,’” recalled Greenseid.
Greenseid found the same insulin pen that cost them about $140 in Minnesota was less than $15 in six different countries around the world.
“It’s exactly the same type of insulin. It’s branded a little differently but you can see from the pens themselves it’s exactly the same product,” she said.
Smith has taken aim at “Big Pharma” since being sworn in as a senator. She’s introduced two bills this year: one aims to increase access to more affordable, generic drugs, while the other would require the pharmaceutical companies to explain why drug prices are what they are.
"You shouldn't have to be choosing between paying for the medicine you need to stay alive and your groceries or your rent,” said Smith.
Sen. Smith’s staff will be holding healthcare round tables across Minnesota this summer. The goal is to hear people’s stories and bring those stories back to Washington D.C.
The first round table will be this Tuesday, July 10 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Plans are also being finalized for events in Mankato and Winona.
Smith hopes Congress can find a bipartisan solution, with President Donald Trump promising to fix the issue immediately.
“We will work every day to ensure Americans have access to the quality, affordable medication they need and they deserve,” said Trump. “We will not rest until this job of unfair pricing is a total victory for the USA. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen quickly.”