Statement from Margarida Jorge, campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now, on President Biden’s meeting with Johnson and Johnson and Merck executives today:
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.
Merck and Johnson & Johnson have a record of using their monopoly control to overcharge Americans for medications they need, to avoid competition in the market, and to inflate profits even at the expense of patients who can’t afford this kind of price-gouging. High prescription drug prices affect everyone: whether you have private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, or are uninsured.
Big Pharma’s price-gouging hurts public health. In a pandemic that has cost millions of people their jobs, income, health coverage, and their lives, our country should not default to business as usual, but instead take long-overdue steps to make medicines affordable for everyone. When people from all walks of life — mothers, gig-economy workers, teachers, small business people — cannot afford the medications they need to lead healthy lives, transformative and bold reform is the only way forward.
Americans urgently need elected leaders to step in and level the playing field when it comes to industry’s monopoly control over critical goods like life-saving prescription drugs. Pharma has received billions of taxpayer dollars for research and manufacturing and billions more in tax breaks even as they continue to price-gouge and profiteer their way through the pandemic. We hope the President will address this today in his meeting and work with lawmakers to finally rein in this industry’s monopoly control as part of his plan to build back better.