Senate aims to fight predatory drug companies, prevent 'monopoly business'

A Senate investigation is blaming what it calls the "monopoly business model" for making once-affordable prescription drugs cost hundreds of dollars more per dose.

The new report from the Senate Aging Committee looked at the practices of four companies. Those companies often acquired the drugs and then jacked up the prices just because they could.

Companies looked for drugs that treated rare conditions and had just one manufacturer. That meant there wouldn't enough patients to effectively complain when prices went up or enough competition to make a rival treatment.

RELATED: Martin Shkreli's outrageous faces during congressional hearing, Turing Pharmaceutical

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Martin Shkreli's outrageous faces during congressional hearing, Turing Pharmaceutical
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Martin Shkreli's outrageous faces during congressional hearing, Turing Pharmaceutical
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, reacts during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli listens during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill February 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Martin Shkreli, the controversial former pharmaceuticals boss and hedge fund manager indicted on securities fraud charges, has been subpoenaed to appear at a hearing of a House of Representatives committee on oversight and government reform looking at the prescription drug market. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli waits for a car to pick him up after invoking his Fifth Amendment rights during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill February 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Martin Shkreli, the controversial former pharmaceuticals boss and hedge fund manager indicted on securities fraud charges, has been subpoenaed to appear at a hearing of a House of Representatives committee on oversight and government reform looking at the prescription drug market. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli (L) leaves with his lawyer Benjamin Brafman after invoking his 5th Amendment rights during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill February 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Martin Shkreli, the controversial former pharmaceuticals boss and hedge fund manager indicted on securities fraud charges, has been subpoenaed to appear at a hearing of a House of Representatives committee on oversight and government reform looking at the prescription drug market. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 04: Martin Shkreli, center, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, leaves a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Rayburn Building on 'methods and reasoning behind recent drug price increases,' after invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, February 04, 2016. Turing had raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients, from $13.50 to $750 a pill. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC., is sworn in during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, February 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Shkreli invoked his 5th Amendment right not to testify to the committee that is examining the prescription drug market. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, is sworn in during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, reacts during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(L-R)Howard Schiller, interim CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc., Nancy Retzlaff, chief commercial officer for Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, and Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, wait for a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill February 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Martin Shkreli, the controversial former pharmaceuticals boss and hedge fund manager indicted on securities fraud charges, has been subpoenaed to appear at a hearing of a House of Representatives committee on oversight and government reform looking at the prescription drug market. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC., smiles while flanked by Nancy Retzlaff, chief commercial officer for Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC., during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, February 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Shkreli invoked his 5th Amendment right not to testify to the committee that is examining the prescription drug market. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, smiles during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, smiles during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, left, listens as his attorney Benjamin Brafman speaks the media after a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The infamous Martin Shkreli became the face of the phenomenon. But his companies aren't the only ones using this model.

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And taxpayers are at least partially footing the bill. Programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the V.A. paid $126 billion for prescriptions this year.

It's hard to prevent this kind of business strategy because it can be tough for smaller companies to break into the market. Application fees and access to generic medicine recipes can cost more than $100,000.

To combat this, Sen. Susan Collins proposed legislation that would waive pricey application fees for certain drugs and make it easier for smaller companies to compete in the pharmaceutical marketplace.

RELATED: Protests against Turing Pharmaceuticals

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