Schrader, Bilirakis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Lower Drug Costs
Today, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) introduced a bipartisan bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs by increasing competition in the market. The Lower Drug Costs Through Competition Act will incentivize drug makers to develop generic drugs when competition currently does not exist, or when there is a drug shortage.
“The greed and abuse of power we’ve seen from certain unscrupulous drug companies in recent years is disgusting,” said Congressman Schrader. “We keep hearing stories about lifesaving drugs becoming astronomically expensive, sometimes overnight and often with zero explanation. This outrageous price gouging has to stop. Our bill will increase competition in the market, giving folks more choice while lowering costs, especially for the most vulnerable who’s lives depend on some of these medications.”
“Too often, we’ve seen the price of potentially life-saving drugs skyrocket as bad actors take advantage of monopolies in the market,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “In fact, this is one of the top issues I hear about from constituents. People in my district and across the country need more options when it comes to accessing affordable medication, and that’s exactly what our bipartisan bill seeks to do. Our proposal uses the free market to lower drug costs, incentivize competition among drug makers, and help get treatments to patients faster.”
The bill will bring new generic drugs to the market where there might otherwise be little incentive to compete because there is a small patient population for the drug, or the costs of development might be too high. One of the most well-known examples of this happened in 2015 when Turing Pharmaceuticals, led by hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, jacked the price of Daraprim – an anti-parasitic drug that’s most commonly used to treat and prevent certain infections in HIV positive patients –from $13.50 to $750 overnight.
One lesser known example occurred just a few months ago, as communities across the country, including in Oregon and Florida, have faced lead-tainted water crises, Valeant Pharmaceuticals raised the price on a lead poisoning treatment by 2,700%.
And last fall, Mylan notoriously came under fire when the company raised the cost of the EpiPen – the well-known epinephrine injection device – by more than 400%. According to the CDC, there are more than 300,000 food-allergy related ambulatory-care visits each year among children, and more than 15 million people in the US have been diagnosed with some type of food allergy. The first and often only lifesaving line of defense when anaphylaxis strikes is the EpiPen.
In each of these instances, there was no generic on the market at the time of the disproportionate price hikes. This bill incentivizes companies to develop these generic drugs by creating a new Priority Review Voucher for generic drugs. The voucher would be awarded to manufacturers that bring a drug to market where there is no current competition.
In addition to Rep Schrader and Rep Bilirakis, the bill is cosponsored by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-5), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Rep. Daniel Lipinksi (D-IL-3), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52), Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL-8) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9).