We all share President Biden’s goal to ensure that every person has access to a COVID vaccine, no matter where they live, what they look like, or how much money they have. To truly accomplish this, when the President meets with executives from Johnson & Johnson and Merck at the White House, he must discuss the industry’s active role in controlling access to the prescription drug through exclusive patents that guarantee the corporations big profits on all kinds of medicines–including ones funded by taxpayer dollars like COVID vaccines.
The Senate’s decision to delay the lifting of the Medicaid rebate cap shows just how much influence Big Pharma continues to have over lawmakers in Congress. Delaying the implementation of this provision until the next presidential election year almost guarantees that it won’t ever go into effect, denying health coverage to millions who need it most in order to keep boosting industry profits.
Here is the plain truth: one of the greatest problems facing the vaccine rollout is one policymakers rarely talk about — monopoly patents. Addressing the patent issue will help get more vaccines into more arms quicker. And it is time Washington addresses it.
This legislation passed by the House will have a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of Americans struggling from the COVID pandemic. In particular, it’s a significant step toward holding Big Pharma accountable for pharmaceutical drug price gouging. Action by Congress to rein in Big Pharma is popular, long-overdue and urgently needed. Already this year, drug companies have increased the price of common medicines by 5% — over twice the rate of inflation — even as our nation’s health programs and systems strain from the burdens of COVID.
Xavier Becerra brings the right skills and experience to the Biden-Harris Administration as it aims to tackle some of the biggest problems facing our nation: a raging pandemic, inaccessible healthcare, and sky-high prescription drug prices. Becerra has a track record of putting the interests of ordinary Americans first — unlike his predecessor Alex Azar — and the Senate must confirm him to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.
These drug corporations – the same ones whose actions have cost the lives of more than 750,000 Americans and counting from the opioid epidemic – are now finding ways to reduce their settlements, and leaving taxpayers to make up the difference.
It is disappointing, but sadly not surprising, that in the middle of a global pandemic and economic downturn, Republicans on the Energy & Commerce Committee just voted unanimously against holding Big Pharma accountable for raising prices faster than inflation for patients in Medicaid.