10.17.17

Murray Pushes for Bipartisan Action at Hearing on Prescription Drug Prices: We Must Get At Root of Problem Causing “Soaring” Costs for Patients & Families

Senate HELP Committee holds second hearing on high cost of prescription drugs

 

At hearing, Murray cites several Dem priorities to tackle drug prices & hold manufacturers accountable: increased transparency from pharmaceutical companies, crack down on price gouging & anti-competitive practices

 

Murray also calls out President Trump for tough talk, no action on drug prices

 

Murray during hearing: “In order for competition to bring down costs, we must ensure the market’s actually working and companies aren’t gaming the system”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – At today’s Senate HELP Committee hearing to address prescription drug prices, Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered the following opening statement calling on her colleagues to build on their efforts in the FDA Reauthorization Act and consider new measures put forth by Democrats to combat high prices set by drug manufacturers, including: demanding more transparency from pharmaceutical companies about what’s behind drug prices; allowing Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs; preventing manufacturers from engaging in price gouging; and cracking down on the various anti-competitive practices that keep prices high.

 

In her opening statement, Ranking Member Murray also called out the Trump Administration for failing to address drug prices:

 

“On drug prices, like so many other issues, President Trump has talked a big game on Twitter. But so far, he’s not taken any action to actually lower drug prices. And the little we have seen from his Administration—like a leaked executive order back in July—barely even scratch the surface.”

 

More key excerpts from Ranking Member Murray’s opening statement:

 

“I am pleased this Committee worked to increase transparency and foster more competition in the generic drug market in the FDA Reauthorization Act. In these agreements, taking suggestions from both sides, we were able to: accelerate the review of generics that can alleviate anti-competitive markets; improve the process for bringing a generic to market by increasing communication and transparency between FDA and manufacturers; encourage new generics to compete with sole source products vulnerable to price hikes and shortages; and prevent gaming of the Orphan Drug Act, which has brought hope to so many patients.

 

“But, as we know, generic competition alone will not address the high prices paid by so many patients and families in out of pocket costs and high premiums. We need to make more progress to get at the root of the problem facing patients—which is the high prices set by drug manufacturers. That’s why I am glad that Democrats have put forward a number of ideas and legislation to: demand more transparency from pharmaceutical companies about what’s behind drug prices; allow Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs; prevent manufacturers from engaging in price gouging; and crack down on the various anti-competitive practices that keep prices high.”

 

“Now, all this requires—as I’ve said many times—that this Administration is a partner—and not a hindrance to our efforts. As we saw last week, President Trump continues to take unilateral steps to increase premiums, undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and cause chaos throughout our health care system. This pattern of governing by sabotage is frankly appalling. It is reckless. And only makes it, I believe, more critical that Congress show patients and families we can work together to undo the damage being caused and move on to actually doing some good when it comes to families’ health care.”

 

“On drug prices, like so many other issues, President Trump has talked a big game on Twitter. But so far, he’s not taken any action to actually lower drug prices. And the little we have seen from his Administration—like a leaked executive order back in July—barely even scratch the surface. Instead, many of the plans that have come out would do very little to target drug prices. And in fact some have actually targeted vital programs, like 340-B, that support hospitals and clinics in serving the very communities who can’t afford the drugs they need to stay healthy.”  

 

Full text below of Ranking Member Murray’s opening statement:

 

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander, for your leadership in holding these hearings, and truly all our colleagues—on both sides—for their commitment and efforts to address the critical challenge before us: the increasing burden and soaring prices of prescription drugs.

 

“Much like our last hearing, on the devastation being caused by the opioid crisis, this is a truly urgent discussion.

 

“Like everyone here, I’ve heard from far too many families who are forced to choose between high-priced medication and paying the bills. Between filling a prescription or putting food on the table. And between getting the care they need—or paying the mortgage—or putting gas in the tank.

 

“So this is a challenge that clearly must be met—and met quickly. Fortunately, we have taken some steps in the right direction.

 

“For one, I am pleased this Committee worked to increase transparency and foster more competition in the generic drug market in the FDA Reauthorization Act.

 

“In these agreements, taking suggestions from both sides, we were able to: accelerate the review of generics that can alleviate anti-competitive markets; improve the process for bringing a generic to market by increasing communication and transparency between FDA and manufacturers; encourage new generics to compete with sole source products vulnerable to price hikes and shortages; and prevent gaming of the Orphan Drug Act, which has brought hope to so many patients.

 

“But, as we know, generic competition alone will not address the high prices paid by so many patients and families in out of pocket costs and high premiums. We need to make more progress to get at the root of the problem facing patients—which is the high prices set by drug manufacturers.

 

“That’s why I am glad that Democrats have put forward a number of ideas and legislation to: demand more transparency from pharmaceutical companies about what’s behind drug prices; allow Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs; prevent manufacturers from engaging in price gouging; and crack down on the various anti-competitive practices that keep prices high.

 

“These measures would make a real difference when it comes to bringing down prices.

               

“Now, all this requires—as I’ve said many times—that this Administration is a partner—and not a hindrance to our efforts.

 

“As we saw last week, President Trump continues to take unilateral steps to increase premiums, undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and cause chaos throughout our health care system. 

 

“This pattern of governing by sabotage is frankly appalling. It is reckless. And only makes it, I believe, more critical that Congress show patients and families we can work together to undo the damage being caused and move on to actually doing some good when it comes to families’ health care.

 

“Now, on drug prices, like so many other issues, President Trump has talked a big game on Twitter. But so far, he’s not taken any action to actually lower drug prices.

 

“And the little we have seen from his Administration—like a leaked executive order back in July—barely even scratch the surface.

 

“Instead, many of the plans that have come out would do very little to target drug prices. And in fact some have actually targeted vital programs, like 340-B, that support hospitals and clinics in serving the very communities who can’t afford the drugs they need to stay healthy. 

  

“So, this Administration must choose a different path. And I would just note—that President Trump can start by nominating a new Secretary of Health and Human Services who will truly put families first when it comes to prescription drug prices and many other issues.

 

“I hope this time President Trump will listen—and I expect a rigorous and thorough nomination process—because HHS does play an important role in all of this. 

 

“So, as always, we have a lot to cover. I want to thank our witnesses for joining us—we are very much looking forward to your testimony today.

 

“And I would just again thank—Chairman Alexander—and all our colleagues for their efforts to tackle this pressing challenge to make sure prescription medication and lifesaving treatments are not just available, but accessible and affordable.

 

“I am hopeful that our bipartisan work on insurance market stabilization and FDARA can lay the groundwork for serious action on drug prices, given we all agree this is a priority. As we know, the patients and families we serve cannot wait any longer.

 

“Thank you, everyone. And I’ll turn it back over to you, Mr. Chairman.”

 

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