House Energy and Commerce Members Challenge Administration to Increase Access to Medicines

June 7, 2017

House Energy and Commerce Members Challenge Administration to Increase Access to Medicines

Statement of Shanna Devine, Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: During today’s U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee reauthorization bill, members of the committee unanimously voted for an amendment that called on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to commit to working with Congress to advance medication pricing reform. The amendment, filed by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), received unanimous approval by voice vote.

At today’s House markup of the FDA user fee reauthorization bill, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously challenged the Trump administration to deliver on its statements to make medicines affordable. To distinguish between meaningful and hollow administrative action, Representative Schakowsky introduced an amendment that identified baseline criteria for reform – from increasing generic competition to preventing anti-competitive behavior.

Polls continue to identify making medications affordable as a top health care priority for voters across the political spectrum.

Republicans and Democrats agreeing on the need for the Trump administration to engage with Congress to make medications affordable is an important acknowledgment of the problem, but now, real, concrete action from Congress and the administration to lower medicine prices is desperately needed. Until the issue is addressed, Americans will continue to face difficult choices every day between purchasing the medicines required to lead healthy and productive lives and putting food on the table for their families.

The president and Congress can begin to correct course by advancing substantive amendments as part of the U.S. Senate floor vote on the FDA user fee reauthorization bill. Further, the administration can start to make good on its promise to increase access to medicines by supporting the “Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act” (S. 771, H.R. 1776), comprehensive legislation that would lower medicine prices and hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for abuses.

Representative Schakowsky’s prescription pricing amendment can be viewed here.

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