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State Officials, Groups Demand Trump, Azar Make Medications Available to All, End Structural Racism in Health Care

20-Plus State Officials Urge Trump Administration to Use Existing Authority to Lower Drug Prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal government should use its existing authority to lower drug prices by authorizing generic competition and mandating widespread manufacturing of life-saving medications and vaccines, including for COVID-19, groups and dozens of local and state government officials urged today during a protest and in letters to the government.

During a protest this afternoon outside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) building in Washington, D.C., health care groups demanded that HHS Sec. Alex Azar and the Trump administration use its existing manufacturing authority and patent licensing laws to make all medicine affordable. The groups also delivered 27 letters from local and state officials in seven states to Azar in support of the campaign.

“Millions of people are at serious risk of viral transmission, economic disruption and systemic discrimination,” the groups said. “For people who cannot afford to wait for a vaccine, for people without insurance struggling to afford insulin, and for communities that need naloxone to prevent overdose deaths, the monopoly control of medicine leads to rationing and suffering. The government has the power to change this, and it must. Trump and Azar must stand up to Big Pharma’s greed and authorize generic competition and scale up public manufacturing immediately.”

Following the protest, in a webinar state and local officials, including Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Maine State Sen. Rebecca Millett, also addressed how pharmaceutical monopolies have exacerbated structural racism in health care and disproportionately makes medicines and treatments unaffordable for people of color.

“No one should have to suffer because they cannot afford life-saving prescription drugs, especially during this pandemic. But that’s a reality for far too many families, especially in our Black and Brown communities,” said Barnes. “As Pharma continues to benefit from taxpayer money, the federal government needs to do everything in its power to provide people with the medications and health care they need to thrive.”

The protest and webinar were organized by Public Citizen, the Center for Popular Democracy, Social Security Works, People’s Action and the Action Center on Race & the Economy.

A recording of the webinar will be available here.