THEY SAID IT! U.S. House Ways & Means Subcommittee Pushes For Increased Competition To Lower Drug Prices

Mar 8, 2019

On Thursday, members of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health added their voice to the building momentum for action in Washington to bring down the out-of-control price of prescription drugs.  Committee members, of both parties, further agreed swift action is needed to crack down on Big Pharma’s anti-competitive tactics and introduce more competition into the market from generics and biosimilars.

Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chairman: “I believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that patients come first and that it is their health and livelihoods that is the only thing that is nonnegotiable.  Unaffordability and inaccessibility are not the unavoidable side effects of innovation, they’re the result of unrestrained monopoly power … Anyone who believes that pharmaceutical monopolies will yield their monopoly profits, which are extraordinary, just for the public good, has not observed with any level of objectivity, the performance of this industry over recent decades.”

Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL): “As someone that’s been in business 30 years, one thing I understand is free markets and competition drives down lower prices.  I look at generic drugs … As we had more competition, we get lower prices.  It’s very simple to me … As you get more transparency, increase the pressure for competition, less monopolies, that’s where I think we need to go.”

Representative Judy Chu (D-CA): “It’s pretty safe to say that the pharmaceutical drug industry is doing quite well and that the steady trend of price increases is not due to the industry’s lack of revenue, in fact, there are record profits, high bonuses and salaries for CEOs and many stock buy-backs … Drug companies are spending more on ads than on R&D and that these ads are driving patient behavior.”

Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE): “I’m a consumer of an EpiPen and quite honestly before the prices spike on the EpiPen, I was not really liking the price to begin with, and then it got worse.  And I think looking at that and some others, that the longer the product has been around, the more expansive it has become, that to me is suspect, let’s look at that.”

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): “This is the furthest you can get from a free market.  First and foremost, we have people here who have an exclusive right to this product.  They can’t legally have competition.  This monopoly that the federal government has decided, there’s not going to be a free market.  The federal government pays for an extraordinary amount of the research that is used by this product.  The federal government pays the bill.  So, on what planet is this a free market system? … What we have is the highest prices in the world because of the odd, complex, hybrid system of modified protections.”

Representative Tom Reed (R-NY): “I think there is a lot of bipartisan recognition that drug pricing in America right now is a problem.  We’ve all heard from our constituents, we’ve all heard about this issue.  And I’ll also tell you as the father of a type one diabetic, I have seen the insulin issue myself firsthand, so I join with my colleagues in regard to trying to find a solution to this problem … I am optimistic that even in this hearing today, that at the core of the testimony and at the core of the information that’s being provided, that the market pressure, a free market system, is the tool that should be used to drive prices down.  That is where the solution lies.”

Today’s hearing is a welcome sign from lawmakers that the issue of out-of-control drug pricing will continue to be a top priority in this new Congress that has already seen six hearings on the crisis of prescription drug prices.  The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) is encouraged by the discussions in today’s hearing to hold Big Pharma accountable and promote competition to lower drugs prices.