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Pharma, Medical Device Industries Got an Early Christmas Present, But Not Everything on Their List

Statement of Dr. Michael Carome, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

Note: Today, the U.S. Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act. Last Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure. See Public Citizen’s work surrounding the legislation – highlighting the serious impacts the bill will have on patient safety.

It is sorely disappointing that Congress gave Big Pharma and the medical device industry an early Christmas present by passing the 21st Century Cures Act. This gift – which 1,300 lobbyists, mostly from pharmaceutical companies, helped sell – comes at the expense of patient safety by undermining requirements for ensuring safe and effective medications and medical devices.

However, because of the efforts of Public Citizen and allies, Big Pharma and medical device corporations did not receive all the goodies they put on their long wish list. Our pressure helped eliminate provisions that would have 1) opened a gaping hole in the Physician Payments Sunshine Act for educational gifts made by industry to physicians; 2) increased medication prices and cost taxpayers an estimated $12 billion over 10 years; 3) encouraged hospitals to overuse the newest antibiotics thereby contributing to the harmful spread of antibiotic resistance; and 4) allowed medical device manufacturers to make changes to high-risk medical devices without U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight.

The bill passed today does less harm than the original bill that passed the House last summer, but Congress should not have had to jeopardize patient safety to increase medical research funding.