Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), along with Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus led by Caucus Co-Chairs Tom Reed (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), announced principles to support legislation to address the country’s constantly rising prescription drug prices while boosting access to health care nationwide, increasing price transparency, and growing competition.
Senators Collins and Manchin and Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus also highlighted different pieces of bipartisan legislation representative of efforts to lower drug costs around the country.
“As Chairman of the Aging Committee, one of my highest priorities is to combat the soaring costs of prescription drugs,” said Senator Susan Collins (ME). “Since 2015, I have held eight hearings on drug pricing and have heard heartbreaking stories from those who have struggled to afford their medications, including a father from New Gloucester, Maine, who saw the cost of his son’s insulin triple overnight. Congress is making progress on this issue, such as enacting legislation I wrote to encourage generic competition and ban pharmacy gag clauses and including my bill to block harmful patent strategies used by biologics manufacturers in a package passed by the Health Committee yesterday, but much more remains to be done. I look forward to working with our partners in the House to pass legislation to help Americans facing exorbitant costs for the medications they need, particularly seniors, 90% of whom take a prescription drug.”
“Prescription drugs are too expensive for Americans, and we must work to lower costs so that everyone has access to the life-saving medicines they need. Across this country, families and small businesses have seen dramatic increases in their out of pocket healthcare costs,” said Senator Joe Manchin (WV). “We simply cannot continue at the current rate. West Virginia families should never be forced to choose between putting food on the table and going to the doctor or buying life-saving medicines. Affordable healthcare is not a Republican or Democratic problem – it’s an American problem, and I look forward to working with my fellow colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure every American can access the medication they need.”
With the release of these principles, the 23 Democrats and 23 Republicans of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus agreed to support ongoing legislative efforts to address the country’s constantly rising prescription drug prices.
The Problem Solvers Caucus’ principles for supporting prescription drug pricing legislation are:
· We support access to medications for patients through more transparency, competition, and affordability in the U.S. prescription drug market.
· We support price transparency standards that give patients, health care providers, and the federal government clear information about drug costs.
· We believe drug manufacturers should have to disclose, in a way consumers and providers can understand, the price of treatment for advertised drugs and explanation of prices.
· We believe pharmacy benefit managers should have to disclose, in a way consumers and providers can understand, the discounts they receive from drug manufacturers that impact the cost of medications for patients.
· We support patent transparency standards that help new drugs come to market as soon as possible.
· We support competition among drug manufacturers that ensures continued R&D, makes drugs more affordable, and increases access for patients who need them.
· We believe in enforcement mechanisms that pave the way for new, more affordable drugs if other manufacturers do not comply with transparency standards or engage in anti-competitive behavior.
Yesterday, the Senate Health Committee passed the Lower Health Care Costs Act, which includes portions of the Biologic Patent Transparency Act, a bill Senator Collins authored that would require drug companies to provide earlier and greater disclosure of the web of patents that protect biologics, which are among the most complex, expensive drugs on the market today. As a result, Senator Collins’ bill would make it easier for biosimilar competitors to evaluate and plan for the development of these drugs, as well as give more teeth to the “list it or lose it” patent provisions under existing law. According to former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, if all of the biosimilars that have been approved by the FDA were successfully marketed in the U.S. in a timely fashion, Americans would have saved more than $4.5 billion in 2017.
The Lower Health Care Costs Act also includes significant new transparency measures for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) and prohibits PBMs from engaging in spread pricing, or charging a plan sponsor, health insurance plan, or patient more for a drug than the PBM paid to acquire the drug.