Fighting for Patients in Congress
For more than 40 years, Public Citizen has fought to keep dangerous drugs and medical devices off the market. Each year, millions of patients are injured by medical products and billions of dollars are wasted on harmful or inappropriate treatments.
Congress is now considering bills to renew user fee funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Public Citizen is fighting for patients by leading efforts to bring drug prices down and promote patient safety.
We Are Fighting To:
- Oppose Longer Drug Monopolies. Prescription drug corporations take unfair advantage of government-granted patent and data exclusivity monopolies to keep drug prices high. Public Citizen opposes bills that would lengthen monopoly protection for brand-name drugs. One of these bills is the Orphan Products Extension Now Accelerating Cures and Treatments (OPEN) Act. Public Citizen estimated that similar legislation introduced in the last Congress could cost taxpayers up to $12 billion over 10 years.
- Lower Drug Prices. Lowering drug prices is a top priority for the American people. Public Citizen supports bills that would lower drug prices by limiting corporate use and abuse of patents and other government-granted monopolies. These include but are not limited to the following bills introduced in the 114th or 115th Congress: the PRICED Act, FAST Generics Act, CREATES Act, Prescription Drug and Health Improvement Act, FAIR Drug Pricing Act, the Prescription Drug Affordability Act and the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act.
- Stop Reckless False Hope Legislation. The Goldwater Institute has funded a nationwide lobbying effort to undermine the federal oversight of medical products, deceptively billed as “right to try” legislation. Now, three proposed federal bills (S. 204, H.R. 878 and H.R. 1020) would more appropriately each be titled “the False Hope Act,” as they expose dying patients to unregulated experimental products while offering the false hope of a cure, when many will ultimately prove ineffective, unsafe or both. In a letter to Congress in March 2017, Public Citizen detailed the potential harms of these dangerous bills.
- Preserve Patients’ Legal Rights. Our nation faces a literal epidemic of medical malpractice, which kills as many as 400,000 people a year. Yet the misleadingly named Protecting Access to Care Act would impose severe limits on citizens’ rights to sue when harmed — a move that would prevent victims from receiving appropriate compensation and make the patient safety problem worse. There is zero evidentiary basis for the misguided claim that this law would lower healthcare costs, as detailed in a Public Citizen report in February 2017.
- Ensure the Recall of Dangerous Drugs. Disturbingly, the FDA cannot order a mandatory recall of unsafe drugs, even though the agency has this authority over virtually every other type of product it regulates, including medical devices, tobacco and food. Although many drug producers comply voluntarily with recall requests, Public Citizen recently documented how a small but potentially dangerous cohort of drug producers has defied repeated federal requests, refusing to recall potentially contaminated drugs. Public Citizen supports the Recall Unsafe Drugs Act of 2017, which would give the FDA authority to order recalls of drugs.
News Coverage and Further Information
- Right to Try Bill Contradicts FDA’s Mission, Former Official Says, March 14, 2017
- How Do We Protect Patients From False Promises In Right-To-Try Laws?, March 14, 2017
- Federal Right to Try Bills Remove Crucial Patient Safeguards, March 10, 2017
- Public Citizen Warns 'Right to Try' Gives Patients False Hope, March 6, 2017
- Federal Right-to-Try Legislation Undermines Patient Protection and Drug Testing, March 6, 2017
- Public Citizen: Letter to Congress Opposing Legislation That Would Provide False Hope to Terminally Ill Patients, March 6, 2017
- Despite Deadly Outbreak, FDA Cannot Recall Drugs, March 1, 2017
- The Medical Malpractice Scapegoat: Claims That Litigation is Responsible for Rising Healthcare Costs Crumble Under Scrutiny, February 28, 2017
- Dear Vice President Pence: Stop Peddling False Hopes to Dying Patients, February 20, 2017
- Public Citizen Report on the Cures Orphan Drug Proposal: A Windfall for Pharma, False ‘Cure’ for Patients, December 8, 2015
See Our Prior Work:
- 21st Century Cures Act of 2016. The 21st Century Cures Act was a bad deal for patient safety, yet the final version did far less harm than it could have, thanks in part to the work of Public Citizen and other consumer groups.