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House Prescription Relief Bill Falls Short of Need

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

Note: Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987). The act includes measures to address some anticompetitive abuses of the pharmaceutical industry as well as provisions that shore up some aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

One hundred and thirty-four days into this Congress, it’s well past time that the House votes on measures to lower drug prices. Today’s House package includes legislation to block tactics that allow prescription industry gaming of our health care system. These are good ideas and Congress should vote them into law immediately.

Unfortunately, on their own, these ideas are not nearly enough to make medicine affordable, and they fall short of the Democrats’ Better Deal pledge. The U.S. pharmaceuticals market approaches $500 billion. Congress needs to be much more ambitious.

Fortunately, there already is a bill in Congress that would ease prescription cost burdens for millions of Americans and save the government many tens of billions. The Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), has the support of more than half the House Democratic caucus. It would authorize direct negotiations with manufacturers on behalf of Medicare Part D and back up any failed negotiation with new generic competition. Congress should move without delay to pass Doggett’s legislation and get serious about access to medicines for all.

Patients across America are still waiting.