THEY SAID IT! E&C Lawmakers Pledge Bipartisan Action To Boost Transparency, Hold Big Pharma Accountable & Lower Drug Prices

May 22, 2019

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on drug pricing transparency Tuesday.  During the hearing, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle blasted Big Pharma for the industry’s anti-competitive and price-gouging tactics.  Members of the committee also rallied behind bipartisan measures to boost drug price transparency and reiterated their commitment to solutions to lower prices for American patients.

Representative Anna Eshoo, Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairwoman (D-CA): “I thought for many years that research and development is the top cost, but as it turns out … the marketing of drugs exceeds that.  It outstrips it and we only, I think, actively study and market drugs that are on patent.  Is there any major drug company that advertises generics?  Anyone know the answer to that?  I think I know the answer; I stay up late at night; I haven’t seen one … I think that kind of … stands the system on its head because it’s a huge cost – and I understand the costs, there are many costs to bring a drug to market, but you know what, when it exceeds research and development, which is absolutely essential, I think that we have an issue here.”

Representative Michael Burgess, Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Ranking Member (R-TX): “I think Secretary Azar is on to something when he says we ought to disclose what the cost to the patient would be.  I mean look, I see all those ads and if I were having to make a decision which drug to start, do I want the one Phil Mickelson is on or do I want the one Cyndi Lauper likes to take?  I don’t know how to, I mean as a patient, I don’t know how to judge that … but I think that information could be helpful, and it might even be helpful to a physician to know that as well, just going down this list of medicines that are all fairly expensive, but some are more expensive than others.”

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): “The pharmaceutical industry is worth almost $1 trillion, and I believe they are holding American consumers hostage.  Our constituents are suffering, and some are dying … because they can’t afford life-saving and life enhancing drugs that they need.  My legislation the FAIR Drug Pricing Act, HR 2296, is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will force the drug companies to be transparent which is the very least that we can expect from them … For the first time ever, this bill will offer taxpayers nation-wide notice of price increases and bring basic transparency to the market for prescription drugs.  These bills are all bipartisan and I am proud that Representative Rooney joined me in reintroducing this.”

Representative Greg Walden, U.S. Energy & Commerce Ranking Member (R-OR): “Patients need our help.  They need our help to force down the price of their medical care, especially when it comes to the cost of drugs.  What good’s a prescription if a patient cannot afford to pay for their medicine … Blockbuster drugs come with budget-busting prices.  Too often prices continue to rise and while there are numerous reasons given, patients rely on these medications.  When market forces weaken or fail then we need to step in with federal commonsense legislation.  And we’ve taken steps recently … we’ve passed the Orange and Purple Book reforms on the House floor … We did reach agreement here through bipartisan negotiations on several other provisions that will increase the availability of generic drugs … I’m glad we’re examining legislation; I hope we can find bipartisan agreement on … We’ve got to put the patients first.”

Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-NC): “I represent the first district of North Carolina where many hardworking families are struggling every day to afford the basic necessities of life … Consumers should be able to anticipate the price of their prescriptions and must be able to rely on the prices to remain stable from year to year … Unlike most consumer products, for many, a prescription is the literal difference between life and death.  Therefore, the need to fund new innovations must be balanced … to make medications widely available and affordable to the public.  And so, we find ourselves here today hopefully in a bipartisan way in pursuit of that goal.”

Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT): “I continue to hear from Montanans about the cost of their prescription drug medications and the difficulties they face in trying to pay for their drugs.  During our first hearing on drug prices this Congress, I spoke about a constituent in Great Falls whose lupus medication had increased by hundreds of dollars in recent years.  The price increase [made] her and her family financially unstable.  Unfortunately, her story is not uncommon.  We need to find common sense solutions and I look forward to finding those with my colleagues across the aisle, to make drugs less expensive, increase transparency where it’s needed and put patients first.”

Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-NM): “We made a commitment when we went to the American people over the last two years that we would pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drug prices for the American people and we better deliver on it.”

Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC): “Every time I go home, I hear from my constituents about high drug prices.  I’ll never forget the constituent I met years ago that told me she literally, some months, had to choose between picking up her prescription and paying for groceries.  This is a problem.”

Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA): “Drug list price increases have outpaced general inflation, medical inflation and overall wage growth for many years.  I’m particularly interested in discussing transparency in list price increases for drugs that are already on the market.  A recent analysis found that prescription drug costs are primarily attributable to year over year price increases for drugs already on the market, not the introduction of new innovative therapies or improvements to existing medications.”

CSRxP is encouraged by Energy & Commerce lawmakers’ continued commitment to tackle rising prescription drug prices and the strong support shown for important transparency measures.  Lawmakers should continue this important progress by advancing transparency measures that will hold Big Pharma accountable and additional bipartisan, market-based solutions to lower prices.