On IRA Anniversary, Health Groups Will Deliver Over 150,000 Signatures in Multiple Cities Telling Drug Corporations to “Drop Your Suits, Drop Your Prices”
As the Inflation Reduction Act turns one this week, a chorus of health advocacy groups and over 150,000 individuals are demanding that pharmaceutical executives withdraw their “unconscionable” lawsuits to block drug price negotiation provisions under the popular legislation.
Advocates will be gathering in Washington, D.C, New York City and Austin on August 16, – the one-year anniversary of President Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act, – to deliver the letter and petitions from over a hundred thousand people demanding the companies drop the suits and instead lower their prices.
In Washington, D.C., groups will hold a press conference outside of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offices, and in New York City, they will be rallying outside of the offices of Jones Day, the law firm representing Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb in their suits.
Additionally, Public Citizen, Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, Protect Our Care, Families USA and Doctors for America have filed an amicus brief supporting HHS’ position that the motion for a preliminary injunction requested by the Chamber and the other plaintiffs in that case should be denied.
Meanwhile, in a new letter targeting the CEOs of Merck & Co., Bristol Myers Squibb Company, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Astellas Pharma US, PhRMA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other chambers of commerce, health advocacy organizations cite how drug corporations routinely charge patients in the United States twice or more of what they charge patients in other large, wealthy countries – even in cases where U.S. taxpayers supported the drug’s development.
“Aging Americans and people with disabilities and chronic health conditions bear the brunt of these excessive prices. No one should have to go into debt, go without life-saving medicines or choose between prescriptions and other basic needs like groceries and rent,” notes the letter, organized by Public Citizen and signed by more than 70 local and national advocacy groups including Social Security Works, Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, Center for Popular Democracy.
“It’s a disgrace that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fronting for Big Pharma against the interests of the mom-and-pop businesses it purports to represent,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Patients, small businesses, large businesses, state and local governments, and the federal government all have a shared interest in curtailing Big Pharma price gouging, as the Inflation Reduction Act’s drug price negotiation provisions will do. It’s time for the U.S. Chamber – and Big Pharma – to drop their lawsuits against the IRA.”
“New Yorkers are fed up with being ripped off by drug corporations, and strongly support Medicare’s new drug price negotiation program created as part of the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Mark Hannay, Director of Metro New York Health Care for All, and coordinator of Health Care for America Now’s New York State Network. “We call on these corporations to recognize political reality that their decades-long profiteering off patients across the US is over, and it’s now time to come to the table and negotiate lower prices. They’ll still make plenty of profits regardless, just as they do in other countries with national health programs.”
“Pharmaceutical corporations have long shown that they care about nothing but profits. So it is not surprising that they are attempting to use the courts to subvert the will of the people and block Medicare from using its bulk purchasing power to get better prices,” said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works. “The law is incredibly clear, as is the will of the American people: Medicare drug price negotiations are legal and incredibly popular. Everybody wins except the greedy CEOs who see their drug price extortion rackets shut down.”
“The pharmaceutical industry could not win in Congress, so it now resorts to the courts to overturn the will of the people—80 percent of whom support direct Medicare negotiation. It’s Big Pharma and Big Business vs. patients and consumers” said Merith Basey, executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “The truth is, implementation of Medicare negotiation is a desperately needed and long-awaited step to ensure millions of Americans obtain the medications they need at prices they can afford.”
“Drug companies’ greed knows no bounds,” said Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care. “While Americans are cutting pills and skipping doses, pharmaceutical companies are putting all of their energy into suing the federal government to protect their ability to charge patients outrageous prices to pad their sky-high profits. Big drug companies spent record amounts on lobbying to kill the Inflation Reduction Act, and now they are doing everything in their power to stop the law from delivering lower costs to patients. The American people will suffer if drug companies get their way.”
“Seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare need lower drug prices now,” said Ady Barkan, Co Executive Director of Be A Hero. “The Inflation Reduction Act passed last year gave Medicare the ability to negotiate pricing for a modest number of prescription drugs. But Big Pharma’s insatiable appetite for profit above all else is shameful. Today, we join with other movement allies to demand that they drop their lawsuits and lower their prices now.”
“So many of our people are rationing medications and choosing between needed care and other life necessities like housing and food,” said Analilia Mejia and DaMareo Cooper, Co-Executive Directors of the Center for Popular Democracy. “And now these pharmaceutical companies are taking legal action to make it even more difficult for us to survive. Our affiliates Make the Road NY, SPACES In Action, Texas Organizing Project, and Arkansas Community Organizations are rallying Wednesday to put our people over profits. We fought for years to get Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices–which we did through the Inflation Reduction Act–and we’re going to keep fighting until healthcare is a human right in America.”
Meg Jones Monteiro, who directs ICCR’s health equity program said, “If these companies truly put patients and society first, then the companies should align their statements with their actions. The inappropriate use of corporate resources and misuse of the U.S. legal system to file this lawsuit against HHS is not what we would expect from companies espousing a commitment to putting patients first and to increasing access and affordability. If people are unable to afford the drugs these companies develop, there is no market and therefore no profit and no long-term value creation for shareholders. These companies are not acting as responsible stewards in driving long-term value for their companies and the patients they serve.”
“It’s clear where big drug companies and the Chamber of Commerce stand: profits over millions of older adults and people with disabilities who can’t afford their prescription drugs,” said Yael Lehman, Senior Direct of Strategic Partnerships for Families USA. “But we know families themselves feel differently – the reforms they are trying to tear away from millions of people who rely on Medicare for their health are extremely popular across all political and ideological spectrums. They need to drop their egregious lawsuit and stop making money from price-gouging families’ access to health and health care.”