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Republicans and Democrats Agree: Congress Must Address Americans’ No. 1 Health Policy Priority

Jan. 28, 2019

Republicans and Democrats Agree: Congress Must Address Americans’ No. 1 Health Policy Priority

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

Note: On Jan. 29, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, led by Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), will hold hearings examining how companies’ actions have raised the cost of prescription prices for Americans. Each hearing will be the first held by its respective committee in the 116th Congress.

The congressional hearings this week are an important step toward the reforms we need to make medicines affordable. We thank and salute Chairman Cummings and Chairman Grassley for taking a first step toward addressing the problem of high medicine prices in the 116th Congress.

That said, it will not be enough for Congress to name a clear problem. The test for elected representatives is whether they are advancing meaningful legislative solutions that hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable and deliver lower prescription prices demanded by Americans.

Some members of Congress continue to prefer joining the pharmaceutical lobby’s blame game. Big Pharma and its trade associations have shifted to blaming middlemen, insurers, hospitals – everyone except the corporations that artificially fix outrageous launch prices in the first place. Pharmaceutical corporations need to be held responsible. Members of Congress must advance solutions that get to the root of the problem: our laws empower corporations to rip off the people through virtually unrestrained monopoly power.

Congress needs to impose meaningful disciplines on monopoly pricing. Legislators must pass laws that empower the U.S. government to negotiate prices directly for Medicare Part D, to tax and penalize price spikes and to curb monopoly abuses of the industry, including by introducing generic competition.