As Pharma Giants Continue to Raise Drug Prices in the U.S., New Campaign Launches to Make Meds Affordable

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Ady Barkan Join Progressive Groups to Launch Event for Pressure Effort Targeting Biden Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A chorus of progressive and grassroots organizations today launched a new campaign targeting President Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging them to bring down drug prices in the United States. The groups launched “Make Meds Affordable” today during an online event hosted by act.tv featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and health care activist Ady Barkan. 

Sponsoring organizations include the Action Center on Race and the Economy, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Indivisible, People’s Action, PrEP4All, Public Citizen, and Social Security Works.

“These drug company monopolies have gotten so big and so powerful that they can now basically hold a gun to a patient’s head and demand, ‘Your money or your life,’” People’s Action’s Aija Nemer-Aanerud said. “The good news is, President Biden and Secretary Becerra have the power under existing law to put a stop to this abuse of people in the U.S. by Big Pharma.” 

“Big Pharma corporations are killing Americans by charging outrageous prices for prescription drugs,” said Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works. “We know why: these companies have spent a fortune on campaign spending and lobbying to get the U.S. government to act as their patent monopoly enforcers. Enough is enough.”

“One in four Americans struggle to afford their prescriptions and millions are rationing their medications because of costs while drug companies game the system to keep prices high and rake in profits,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said. “President Biden and Secretary Becerra can end this shameful price gouging by using their existing authorities to lower drug prices and crack down on the monopoly power of giant pharmaceutical companies—and they need to do it now.”

“The United States is the richest nation in the world–it is past time that we guarantee everyone in our country the health care and treatment they need,” said Ady Barkan, Co-Founder of Be A Hero. “We’ve all heard the stories of people rationing medicine, going without lifesaving prescriptions and going broke trying to pay for their prescriptions.  It’s preposterous, it’s inhumane, and it’s wrong. President Biden and Secretary Becerra have the opportunity to win our freedom back from Big Pharma’s grip on our health care by lowering drug prices now. We cannot wait for Congress. Lives are at stake. President Biden and Secretary Beccera have the authority and must act now, lives are at stake.” 

Today’s event, streamed live by act.tv, illustrated how prescription drug corporations continue to jack up their outrageous prices, leading to family financial hardship and treatment rationing. Featuring voices like that of Ady Barkan, the coalition of progressive organizations highlighted the immense suffering and stress these monopolies are causing because the authorities in the U.S. who have the power to stop them have thus far refused to confront them. 

A recent report from Public Citizen found that for 17 of the 20 top-selling drugs worldwide in 2020, pharmaceutical corporations made more money from U.S. sales than from sales to all other countries in the rest of the world combined.

“No one should have to choose between buying groceries and paying for medications they need to survive,” Peter Maybarduk, Access to Medicines Director for Public Citizen, said. “That’s why we launched this campaign to urge President Biden and Secretary Becerra to use the power they already have to make medications affordable now.” 

More from event participants: 

“The choice is clear — it’s our communities or Big Pharma,” said Maurice BP-Weeks, Co-Executive Director of the Action Center on Race and the Economy. “We’re struggling, and they’re making billions. President Biden committed to fighting for our communities and this is a clear opportunity to do so. It’s easy – Make Meds Affordable and score a big win.”

“Our communities are navigating their third year of a global pandemic, and many are choosing to forgo needed medications because of the cost,” said Vinay Krishnan, National Field Organizer for the Center for Popular Democracy Action.  “All while pharmaceutical companies make billions in profits. President Biden must allow for the production of generics that would eliminate monopolies on medicines and deliver the healthcare people need. We’re asking the President to Make Meds Affordable.”

“People all over the U.S. are being forced into rationing their life-saving medications because they can’t afford to buy the overpriced drugs here that are sold in other countries for a tenth of the price,” Julia Santos, Senior Healthcare Policy Manager for Indivisible, said. “And the reason Big Pharma gets to price-gouge Americans is because our federal government has refused to break up those pharma monopolies and let generic manufacturers here in the U.S. make and sell those life-saving meds. So to President Biden and HHS Sec Becerra we say, ‘What are you waiting for?’” 

“President Biden made a commitment to the American people that he would lower drug prices. He has yet to fulfill that promise,” said Christian Antonio Urrutia, Co-Founder of PrEP4All. “The U.S. government has the authority to stop pharmaceutical profiteering and ensure millions of Americans can get the medications they need. Whether this administration has the willpower to do so remains to be seen.”

The event concluded with a call to action, which can be found at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/make-meds-affordable/.