Attorney General Keith Ellison, Advocates Call On Congress To Take Immediate Action To Make COVID Treatments Affordable To All

Minnesota’s Attorney General, T1International, and national reform leaders join Lower Drug Prices Now to demand No Pandemic Profiteering from Gilead and other drug corporations

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

WASHINGTON — Today, the Lower Drug Prices Now coalition co-hosted a press call following Eli Lilly’s shareholder meeting and in advance of Gilead’s to demand that COVID treatments developed with taxpayer dollars be affordable and accessible to all. 

A recording of the call is available HERE.

The press call comes as Gilead received emergency FDA authorization on Friday for its experimental antiviral, Remdesivir, to treat COVID, with its CEO refusing to answer questions about how much the company will charge for the treatments. Still, despite a clear record of using epidemics to price gouge patients and increase their profits, the Trump administration has refused to take steps to prevent Big Pharma’s business-as-usual profiteering.  

“My office has been on the front lines of holding drug corporations accountable for price fixing and enforcing the law,” said Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota. “But to beat this pandemic, it’s clear we need better laws that regulate drug corporations to ensure that everyone – no matter where they come from or what they look like – can afford COVID treatments. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to take swift action to crack down on pandemic profiteering.” 

“Over a million people are now infected with COVID 19 and the death toll is rising—we need immediate action to ensure that everyone will have access to affordable treatments when they get sick,” said Margarida Jorge, national director of Lower Drug Prices Now. Gilead has a track record of gouging patients during crises. Congress must step in and guarantee widespread access to all COVID vaccines and treatments as soon as they are available if we are going to beat this pandemic. Drugs like Remdisivir developed using taxpayer dollars should be provided to patients at no cost. Congress needs to take immediate and long-overdue action to limit drug corporations monopoly power to price-gouge.”

Corporations like Gilead have a history of standing by while people suffer.” said Rashad Robinson, President of Color Of Change. “Our government has a long history of incentivizing Gilead’s decisions to choose profits over the lives of millions of Black and brown people. This is an unacceptable use of our tax dollars. Unless we change the rules for drug companies like Gilead, people will die while corporate executives buy new vacation homes.”

“Living with Type 1 diabetes I’ve seen firsthand how price gouging by drug corporations wrecks people’s lives,” said Sa’Ra Skipper representing T1International. “With the pandemic, people like me are facing even greater risks. Congress needs to regulate Big Pharma so everything from insulin to drugs to treat COVID are affordable.” 

“Life-saving medicines can’t work if people can’t afford them. Access to quality health care for all is a fundamental human right. Drugs are, quite frankly, as much of public good as electricity, said Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “It is our moral and civic responsibility to get coronavirus treatments to the people who need them, regardless of their ability to pay. This medicine could be sold at a $1 a dose.”

 

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Lower Drug Prices Now is a national coalition of nearly 60 social, racial and economic justice organizations with members in all fifty states. We are committed to transformative, systemic and bold reforms to ensure everyone has access to affordable medicines — no matter where they live, what they look like or how much money they have. Learn more at www.lowerdrugpricesnow.org and follow us on Twitter @peopleb4pharma.

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