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DeFazio Introduces Bill to Require Affordable Pricing on Taxpayer-Funded Prescription Drugs

Oct 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC--Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today introduced legislation that would end price gouging on prescription drugs and other health care products developed with taxpayer money. The legislation would require federal agencies and federally-funded non-profit organizations to secure affordable pricing agreements from drug manufacturers before granting exclusive rights to develop drugs, vaccines or other health care products.

“Americans are being robbed—they’re financing the development of pharmaceuticals and then paying exorbitant prices for the same prescription drugs that they helped underwrite,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio.  “Americans pay more out-of-pocket for prescription drugs than individuals in any other country, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and France. Billions of U.S. tax dollars are spent every year funding the development and distribution of prescription drugs and insulating private drug companies from direct competition. It’s time to change the system to ensure drug companies can’t reap massive profits on the taxpayer’s dime. My legislation will ensure affordable pricing for taxpayer-funded drugs, reining in the reckless greed of drug companies.”

A recent report found that every single one of the 210 drugs approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016 benefitted from taxpayer-funded research. Yet studies continue to show that big pharma spends more on stock buybacks and dividends to make shareholders more wealthy, rather than on research and development. For example, over a recent ten-year period, Pfizer spent $139 billion on stock buybacks and dividends for shareholders, but only $82 billion on research and development. In the first six months of 2019, big pharma raised the price of 3,400 different drugs by an average of 10.5 percent. This is five times the rate of inflation.

Big pharma’s greed means that many Americans can’t even afford the lifesaving prescription drugs they need. Take the example of Sofosbuvir, a drug which treats hepatitis C. Sofosbuvir was developed with ten years of taxpayer-funded research. However, once the federal government granted the private company Gilead Sciences a patent monopoly for Sofosbuvir, Gilead Sciences charged $1,000 per Sofosbuvir pill, or $84,000 for 12 weeks’ worth of pills. By the end of 2017, Gilead Sciences made over $50 billion in profits.