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COVID-19 Medicine Pricing, Transparency Bills Are a Matter of Life and Death

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Today, U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Peter Defazio (D-Ore.) introduced the Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Pricegouging (MMAPPP) Act and the Taxpayer Research and Coronavirus Knowledge (TRACK) Act.

President Donald Trump’s sycophancy to drug corporations is endangering the nation’s pandemic response. Although public investments are driving drug and vaccine development, the Trump administration is permitting drug companies to retain monopoly control over the drugs and vaccines, including those still under development. The administration is refusing to use its existing authorities to enable knowledge sharing and generic competition. Nor is the administration seeking enhanced powers from Congress. The certain result will be profiteering, rationing and inadequate supplies of the medicines and vaccines desperately needed to treat and eliminate the virus.

By contrast, the legislative proposals from Reps. Schakowsky and Doggett prioritize public health over Big Pharma’s profits. Recognizing that leading candidate vaccines and drug treatments are built on public science and hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, their proposals would ensure, first, that the American people know how their money is being spent and what, if anything, our government is asking of the corporations that receive massive taxpayer grants. Additionally, their proposals would ensure that publicly funded treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 are reasonably priced, open to generic competition and available to the world, to prevent medical rationing that could scar a generation.

This is about way more than ensuring taxpayers aren’t ripped off, as important as that objective is. Promoting transparency and reasonable pricing of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines is a life-and-death matter. Public Citizen thanks Schakowsky and Doggett for their leadership and urges immediate passage of these bills.