Health Subcommittee Hearing on Making Medicines Affordable Is Inadequate

March 13, 2019

Health Subcommittee Hearing on Making Medicines Affordable Is Inadequate

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program

Note: Today at 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on the high cost of medicines, the first hearing of the year specifically focused on legislation to solve the problem.

The subcommittee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who has accepted more than $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and health product industries – more than any other current member of Congress. No consumer or patient organization that has not accepted contributions from the pharmaceutical industry is listed as a hearing witness.

Seven legislative proposals will be considered at the hearing.

It’s going to take more than this to convince patients that Rep. Anna Eshoo got woke on drug prices.

Several of the bills the subcommittee is considering would limit pharmaceutical industry gaming of our health care system. These are positive, incremental measures that should be advanced.

However, they would not address the core problem of pharma monopoly power or the absence of serious public negotiating power and disciplines on price. Ultimately the bills under consideration are far more modest than the change Americans need. 

Congress immediately should pass legislation to stop pay-for-delay deals and other abuses that slow generic entry to the market through measures like the CREATES Act, FAST Generics Act, FAIR Generics Act and the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act, and get on with authorizing direct negotiations on behalf of Medicare Part D, which would block price spikes and curb pharma’s monopoly power.

This hearing is too modest a start given the nationwide scourge of treatment rationing and painfully high health care bills. People need bold action and are still waiting.