Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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DeGette, Colleagues Formally Request Drug Price Hearing

Jun 12, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), along with all her Democratic colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee, have sent a letter to Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) requesting that the Committee hold hearings to both examine and begin work to address the rising costs of prescription drugs. 

As ranking member on the committee’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, DeGette would play a key role in such a hearing.

The request comes after the Committee unanimously passed an amendment during a full committee markup of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 expressing a sense of Congress urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with Congress to lower the cost of prescription drugs.  The approval of the sense of Congress demonstrates bipartisan recognition of the importance of Congress tackling rising drug prices.  All Committee Democrats are now formally calling for a hearing on rising prescription drug costs as a way to get the process started.

“We are writing to request that the Committee hold hearings to examine the rising costs of prescription drugs and work in a bipartisan fashion to address this critical issue,” Democrats wrote to Chairman Walden.  “Ensuring patient access to affordable and innovative prescription drugs should be of the upmost importance to the Committee, especially as drug prices continue to rise at an alarming rate.”

A recent national poll found that six in ten Americans believe lowering the cost of prescription drugs should be a top priority for the President and Congress.  Under current projections, annual drug spending in the U.S. is expected to reach more than $500 billion by 2018.  In 2015, growth in prescription drug spending outpaced all other health care services, surpassing hospital care as well as physician and clinical services.

“The American people expect us to work together to find answers to this problem,” the members continued.  “Following our bipartisan work on the 21st Century Cures Act, as well our current work together on the FDA user fee reauthorization process, it is our hope that we can advance bipartisan policies to address rising drug costs with the same urgency and determination.”

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing to examine the costs of prescription drugs.

 

Full text of the letter:

 

June 9, 2017

 

 The Honorable Greg Walden

Chairman

Committee on Energy and Commerce

2125 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Walden:

We are writing to request that the Committee hold hearings to examine the rising costs of prescription drugs and work in a bipartisan fashion to address this critical issue.  Ensuring patient access to affordable and innovative prescription drugs should be of the upmost importance to the Committee, especially as drug prices continue to rise at an alarming rate.  As was expressed during the health subcommittee and full committee markups of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act of 2017, we believe that addressing prescription drug prices should be a top priority of this Committee and we ask that you work with us to find policies that will truly help to lower costs.

We remain concerned by the staggering impact high drug prices have on American families, as well as on overall health spending in the United States each year.  Annual drug spending in the U.S. is expected to reach more than $500 billion by 2018, also resulting in large drug spending increases to Medicare and Medicaid as well.   In 2015, growth in prescription drug spending outpaced all other health care services, surpassing hospital care as well as physician and clinical services.  

As a result, many Americans face real barriers to accessing the medications they need.  While new life-changing and life-saving therapies continue to enter the market each year, patients must be able to afford these treatments in order to benefit from their potential.  This Committee has come together to work on legislation that would bring these life-changing and life-saving therapies to the market sooner, by providing FDA and industry with the new tools to streamline drug development and improve the efficiency of the regulatory process.  Our work should not stop there.

We must find workable solutions that will incentivize competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace and encourage the development of affordable and high quality drugs, while also monitoring steep prescription drug price increases when they arise.  Pricing patients out of the market, or forcing them to choose between their medications and other necessities, should not be acceptable.  The Committee would be well served to hear from expert witnesses who can help to explain the current impediments to lowering prices, and help us formulate consensus driven approaches in order to resolve this issue.

The American people expect us to work together to find answers to this problem.  In fact, a recent national poll found that six in ten Americans believe lowering the costs of prescription drugs should be a top priority for the President and Congress.   Following our bipartisan work on the 21st Century Cures Act, as well our current work together on the FDA user fee reauthorization process, it is our hope that we can advance bipartisan policies to address rising drug costs with the same urgency and determination.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with you on this important issue. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Frank Pallone, Jr.

Bobby L. Rush

Anna G. Eshoo

Eliot L. Engel

Gene Green

Diana DeGette

Mike Doyle

Jan Schakowsky

G.K. Butterfield

Doris O. Matsui

Kathy Castor

John Sarbanes

Jerry McNerney

Peter Welch

Ben Ray Luján

Paul D. Tonko

Yvette D. Clarke

Dave Loebsack

Kurt Schrader

Joseph P. Kennedy, III

Tony Cárdenas

Raul Ruiz, M.D.

Scott H. Peters

Debbie Dingell