With the Build Back Better Act stalled in the Senate thanks to the GOP and a couple of right-wing Democrats, 40 party members in the House of Representatives on Monday demanded urgent action to lower prescription drug prices across the United States.
“People have sent us to Washington on the promise that we end Big Pharma’s monopoly control over prices and provide patients with much-needed relief.”
The lawmakers, led by Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), are calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “to take legislative action as swiftly as possible to lower drug prices.”
“For years, people have sent us to Washington on the promise that we end Big Pharma’s monopoly control over prices and provide patients with much-needed relief,” their letter states. “We must make good on that promise—and we have the ability to do so.”
House Democrats in November passed the Build Back Better Act, which includes drug pricing reforms as part of a long list of President Joe Biden’s agenda. The package—like other party priorities—has been held up by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Politico, which first reported the letter Monday, noted that “the lack of action across the Capitol has infuriated many House Democrats, who see Biden’s package, particularly drug pricing, as essential for their own reelections.”
The letter—which does not mention the sweeping package by name—suggests drug pricing reforms alone could pass, noting that Senate Democrats have a proposal to ensure Medicare can negotiate certain drug prices, restrict Big Pharma’s power over price tags, cap out-of-pocket Medicare Part D costs, and limit the monthly cost of insulin for the uninsured to $35.
Asserting that Biden, the letter’s signatories, all Senate Democrats, and the American people “support this plan,” the letter declares that “it is time to enact it into law.”
Pointing out that drug corporations have already hiked the prices of hundreds of drugs this year, the letter adds that “action can’t happen soon enough to make medicines affordable for the millions who need them.”
As Common Dreams reported earlier Monday, while lobbying against the Build Back Better Act, drugmakers raised the costs of 866 prescription medications in the United States over the past month by an average of 6.6%.
“How many more Americans have to die and suffer before Congress has the guts to end this greed?” Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Sunday, noting the new analysis of price hikes.
The lawmakers’ letter similarly emphasized the need for immediate action.
“We cannot overstate the paramount urgency of fulfilling the promise of lowering drug prices now for the American people,” the letter concludes. “They’re counting on us.”