READ: Patients Over Pharma op-ed laying out Coronavirus Drug Accountability and Transparency Plan
Washington, DC – Today, Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig released additional details of Patients Over Pharma’s push for Congress to include strong patient protection, affordability, transparency, and anti-profiteering provisions in upcoming coronavirus response legislation. Big Pharma lobbyists were able to squash prior attempts to ensure affordability and access of coronavirus treatments, but Patients Over Pharma continues to push for Congress to get this right.
“Big Pharma is doing everything they can to protect their profits and their ability to charge whatever they want for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, no matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers paid to develop them,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “That is why as Congress works on their next round of coronavirus response legislation it must include strong provisions to ensure that patients and their families are put ahead of drug companies and their profits.”
In the coming days Patients Over Pharma will be releasing additional details of their push to ensure that patients are prioritized in upcoming coronavirus response legislation, focusing next on accountability and transparency.
Coronavirus Drug Accountability and Transparency Plan: Ensuring that coronavirus treatments and vaccines are affordable and accessible to every American.
It’s a sad commentary on our broken health care system that this needs to be legislated, but the fact of the matter is that if Congress doesn’t take additional steps to ensure that coronavirus vaccines and treatments are affordable and accessible to every American, then we may find ourselves in a situation where only the wealthy and well-connected get treated, pharmaceutical companies rake in even more profits, and patients are left to pay the price.
Congress faced this issue in their first response bill, and despite the strong efforts by progressives like Representative Jan Schakowsky, the pharmaceutical industry and their lobbyists not only blocked language that would have prevented Big Pharma from locking up coronavirus vaccines or treatments with multi-year exclusivity and protection from generic competition, but they actually managed to slip language into the law that prevents the government from intervening when there are concerns about affordability. The only affordability provision that managed to make it into the bill left it up to Sec. Azar’s discretion, despite the fact that he had already told Congress he couldn’t guarantee that treatments or vaccines would be affordable and was opposed to “price controls.”
Congress must reverse this mistake in the following ways.
- No pharmaceutical company should be granted exclusivity on coronavirus treatments or vaccines that were developed using taxpayer dollars. We need to ensure that the moment a vaccine or treatment is approved by the FDA, facilities in America and across the world can immediately move into mass production. We have already seen pharmaceutical companies try to game the system to lock down promising coronavirus treatments for themselves, and we can’t trust that Americans will be able to access lifesaving drugs if a single pharmaceutical company has the exclusive rights.
- Any coronavirus vaccine or treatment developed using taxpayer dollars should be offered at cost. According to a recent report from Public Citizen, the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t made significant investments in infectious diseases, including coronaviruses, while the National Institutes of Health has invested nearly $700 million on coronavirus R&D since the SARS outbreak. So it seems more than fair that during a time of national crisis, the pharmaceutical industry should be asked to hold off on padding their already-bloated profits on the backs of patients.
- Congress must mandate that insurance companies cover all coronavirus testing, treatments, and vaccines without copays or deductibles for the duration of this crisis. President Trump has taken some steps to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid cover testing, but this doesn’t go nearly far enough and doesn’t include the millions of Americans covered through private insurance companies.