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Statement: Becerra’s Drug Competition Plan Long on Legislative Hopes, Short on Executive Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra today released the Biden administration’s plan to lower prescription drug prices, as directed by President Joe Biden’s executive order on drug competition. Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, issued the following statement:

“The plan restates Democrats’ legislative hopes, including welcome support for serious Medicare price negotiation. Unfortunately, those hopes are bolder than the executive action Becerra unveils here. The Secretary has power under existing law to make medicine affordable through competition. But according to this plan, Becerra will use only fragments of that power.

“Monopolies are the root cause of outrageously high drug prices. The federal government creates pharmaceutical monopolies through patents and other government-granted exclusivities, and the federal government can take away monopoly privileges at any time to foster competition and make medicine available to all.

“The plan recognizes this monopoly problem and seeks to mitigate it, but does not avail itself of the federal government’s power to end it. We will take up the Secretary’s commitment to review petitions to end monopolies on particular critical medicines.

“The plan, including bold government price negotiation, would make a meaningful difference in people’s ability to afford medicine. It would not, however, end price abuse by prescription drug corporations, or the treatment rationing that millions of Americans endure each year.”