Prescription drug price gouging bill to be proposed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Price gouging on prescription drugs that are in short supply would become a federal crime under legislation about to be introduced.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., says he's proposing a bill that that would give the U.S. Department of Justice authority to crack down on drug distributors who sell life-saving prescription medicines in short supply to hospitals at huge markups.

That's been a growing problem this year. Shortages of normally cheap generic injected medicines have risen dramatically. It's disrupting care of patients and even clinical trials of experimental new drugs.

At least 15 deaths have been blamed on the shortages.

Schumer's bill, to be introduced next week, would allow penalties of up to $500 million for each case of price gouging.