May 5, 2021

Members of Congress in Both Parties Recognize Urgency for Solutions to Deliver Relief for American Patients

During a pair of hearings this week in the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health and House Education & Labor Committee Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, lawmakers from both parties emphasized the urgent need for action to lower prescription drug prices.

Members of Congress pointed to personal stories from constituents struggling with out-of-control drug prices and highlighted the egregious price-hiking and anti-competitive behavior of Big Pharma companies –  which continued during the pandemic.

Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Chairman, House Education & Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions: “Profits for drug companies are among the highest of any sector. According to the GAO, the average profit margin for a large drug company is between 15 and 20 percent after taxes, compared to the average large company’s margin in other sectors which is somewhere between four and 10 percent… It’s time for price gouging of American consumers at the pharmacy counter to end and transparency for the consumer to flourish. As we continue to recover from the worst public health emergency in our history, in recent history for certain, we should be doing everything we can provide consumers with relief from the weight of unaffordable drug prices. Simply put medicines are of no use if those who need them can’t afford them.”

Representative Rick Allen (R-GA), Ranking Member, House Education & Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions: “Many Americans are facing skyrocketing health care costs because of dramatic increases in out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs. And we need to do something about it… We need to come together, on a bipartisan basis and promote legislation that will solve this problem.”

Representative George Butterfield (D-NC): “During my time in Congress, I’ve heard from countless constituents who say they cannot afford their prescription medications. We all hear it when we go home. It isn’t right that someone in our country should have to choose between food and medicine. It’s just not right. It isn’t right that one in three U.S. adult patients forgo desperately needed medications because of costs.”

Representative David McKinley (R-WV): “We all know there’s a need for drug pricing reform. We all, I don’t think there’s any one of us who’d be arguing against that.”

Representative Peter Welch (D-VT): “Pharma has a pretty good arrangement. They’ve got a guaranteed market, they’ve got pricing power that is legislated and authorized by the government, and what we’ve seen is that it’s a model that works and they make billions and billions of dollars and the CEOs make millions and millions of dollars in salary. Pharma often times spends far more on advertising than it does on research and development. And all of these things add up to an incredible, punitive, price-gouging impact on taxpayers, on individuals, and very significantly on many of our employers.”

Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD): “I continue to hear these stories today from Maryland constituents as to how the high prices of prescription drugs forces them to make impossible choices endangering their health and their lives. And all of this is happening while drug companies continue to rake in these incredible profits. Between 2011 and 2016 we know that list prices went up 129 percent for 14 of the top-selling drugs. Top-selling because they’re so critical for people out there. At the same time out of pocket spending by patients increased by 85 percent for specialty medicines and by 42 percent for non-specialty drugs even after taking inflation into account. This is just plain wrong.”

Learn more about bipartisan, market-based solutions to lower drug prices and hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.