|WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs David Mitchell joined House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, congressional leaders, and advocates at a press conference today that revealed the final findings from the committee’s nearly three-year investigation into pharmaceutical pricing and business practices. The committee’s findings sharply emphasize the urgent need for reforms to lower prescription drug prices that are a key feature of the Build Back Better Act. The legislation will finally allow Medicare to negotiate for some of the most expensive drugs, prevent price gouging by penalizing drug companies for price hikes above the rate of inflation, and place a cap on out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients, including $35 copay caps on insulin for Medicare and commercially insured patients.
“When [the Build Back Better Act] is signed into law, it will mark a truly historic shift in U.S. policy and deliver long overdue relief to millions of Americans,” Mitchell, a patient with incurable blood cancer whose drugs carry a list price of more than $900,000 per year, said at the press conference. “For the first time, the drug industry’s unilateral power to dictate prices will be broken, Medicare will be authorized to negotiate, and we will limit price increases and out-of-pocket costs.”
The committee’s findings conclude that, for years, prescription drug companies have targeted Americans with outrageously high prices and raised those prices at will to hit profit targets and trigger executive bonuses. They also show that the industry’s excessive prices and anticompetitive practices are not justified by the need for innovation and have been used principally to enrich company executives and shareholders.
“Of course, pharma tells us Build Back Better is going to bring innovation to a grinding halt. That’s just not true. This bill does not alter the current incentives for innovation,” Mitchell continued. “We must not fall for pharma’s fear-mongering. Instead, we need Congress to listen to the stories of patients who are making heart-wrenching, life-altering decisions every single day in order to afford the medications they need right now.”
The press conference took place as the Senate is considering the Build Back Better Act, which passed out of the House of Representatives last month. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, patient advocate Mindy Salango, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse, and Families USA Senior Director of Federal Relations Jen Taylor also spoke at the press conference.
“We are here to unveil our committee’s findings from our three-year investigation on drug prices. These shocking findings highlight the need for the reforms in the Build Back Better Act to finally tackle skyrocketing prescription drug prices. The committee’s investigation has pulled back the curtain on drug companies’ unfair, unjustified, always increasing drug prices,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “America’s patients and families deserve better. No one should have to choose between their medication and household expenses like rent and groceries.”
“The result of the House Oversight Committee investigation is clear: American families are suffering from outrageous drug prices, while Big Pharma rakes in record profits,” Speaker Pelosi said in a statement. “With the House-passed Build Back Better Act, we are fighting back against this appalling conduct: ending unfair price hikes, empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower prices, capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month, and more. Thanks to the relentless leadership of Chair Carolyn Maloney, the Congress is carrying on the life’s work of our dear late colleague Elijah Cummings: to bring down health costs for the people.”
“The report that is being released today confirms once again the endless greed of the pharmaceutical industry. … These rich corporations say they need these higher prices because [of] the cost of research and development. But the truth is … the top 14 drug companies spent $56 billion more on stock buybacks, dividends for their investors, and CEO pay than they did on research and development in the last five years alone,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “I am proud that the House voted to pass the Build Back Better bill that finally will provide the relief you heard.”
“Unfortunately there are millions of Americans with similar stories, and I am one of them. Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic lymphocytic leukemia. … One of the drugs in this report, I’m grateful for — it’s kept me alive. We’ve had the CEO of this company here in this room to talk about this. This drug, ibrutinib, this package in my hand, costs Americans, list price, $24,000, right here,” Rep. DeSaulnier said, holding up a package of his cancer medication. “In the European Union, Great Britain, France, Germany, it’s about $11,000. … We can do better, much better. The cost of this drug to Americans and to Medicare and Medicaid is astronomical. Build Back Better will change that.”
“We are calling on the Senate to pass the legislation, resist efforts by Big Pharma that are still going on to weaken this bill in any way,” Mitchell concluded. “Millions of American lives depend on it.”
Patients have provided testimonials at each of the committee’s hearings examining results of the investigation, which delved into the pricing practices of several drug companies for specific expensive medications. Those drugs include Revlimid, Copaxone, Enbrel, Gleevec, Humira (twice), and Imbruvica.
You can read the full findings here and watch the press conference here.