Belfast, ME — Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins attended Belfast Rotary Club’s meeting to discuss her efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and the importance of investing in biomedical research. She also participated in a Q&A and met with Belfast Rotary’s new President Duke Marston. The meeting was attended by approximately 65 Belfast Rotary members.
“We are in a time when Washington seems to be consumed by partisan bickering. Those conditions exist, to be sure, but the message I want to convey to you today is that, despite the obstacles, we are making progress on many fronts,” said Senator Collins. “I have long maintained that the best way to break through the impasse that prevents progress is to focus on those things that matter to people in every congressional district and every state. Once we achieve success on issues that transcend ideology, we just might find that cooperation and compromise aren’t really all that hard.”
“The bipartisan efforts underway in Congress to ensure that prescription medicine is affordable for more Americans are gaining momentum. Another issue that has brought Congress together is federal funding for biomedical research,” continued Senator Collins. “Despite the divisiveness in Washington, Congress has demonstrated a willingness to come together at times. I continue to believe that we all desire an America that is vibrant, just, and prosperous. Getting there will require working hard, respecting the courage and wisdom that lights our history, and sitting down together to work things out.”
Senator Collins, a former member of the Bangor Rotary Club, is an honorary Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow.
Founded in 1925, Belfast Rotary Club is part of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization with 1.2 million members. Rotarians volunteer their time and talent to further the Rotary motto “Service Above Self.”
As the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, Senator Collins has led efforts in Congress to increase the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs.
In 2015, Senator Collins launched the landmark bipartisan Senate investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for certain generic, off-patent drugs. Following the investigation, she co-authored a bill to improve generic competition and lower the cost of prescription drugs that was signed into law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act. In October 2018, Senator Collins’ legislation to prohibit the use of pharmacy “gag clauses” was signed into law after receiving overwhelming bipartisan support.
Earlier this year, Senator Collins introduced the Biologic Patent Transparency Act to help block the harmful patent strategies that prevent lower-cost biosimilars from coming to market. Portions of this bill were included in the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, which passed the HELP Committee last month. Last month, Senators Collins and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, introduced new legislation to combat the skyrocketing cost of insulin.
Senator Collins has also been a strong advocate for increased funding for biomedical research. Over the last four years, Congress has increased funding by 30 percent–—or $9 billion—for the nation’s premier biomedical research arm, the National Institutes of Health. Last year, 13 institutions in Maine, including the Jackson Laboratory, Maine Medical Center, the University of Maine, and the University of New England, received a combined 160 NIH grants totaling nearly $100 million.