Engel Discusses Broken Drug Pricing System at Committee Hearing

Engel Discusses Broken Drug Pricing System at Committee Hearing

Renews call for federal government to negotiate drug prices, eliminate price gouging, cap out-of-pocket costs


Washington, D.C.—Congressman Eliot L. Engel offered the following remarks at today’s Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee hearing on prescription drug prices titled “Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable: Legislation to Negotiate a Better Deal for Americans.” (As prepared for delivery. Video of Rep. Engel’s remarks and questions can be found here.):


“Thank you Chairman Pallone and Chairwoman Eshoo for holding today’s important hearing on legislative proposals that would allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices and bring relief to our constituents.


“I’m always shocked and disappointed to know that other countries pay far less for the same medications than we do.


“A recent study of 10 other high-income countries found that on average they spend 56 percent of what we pay for the exact same drugs.


“Unlike our broken drug pricing system, these countries negotiate their drug prices. 


“I am pleased to see that we are considering the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act from Congressman Peter Welch, which would repeal the ‘non-interference’ clause enacted by the 2003 Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act.


“This horrendous 2003 law, which I voted against, prevents Medicare from using its purchasing power to lower the cost of life-saving drugs such as insulin.


“Congressman Welch’s bill would go a long way in righting this wrong.


“I also want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Pallone for their leadership in crafting the Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act, which I’m pleased to cosponsor.


“This comprehensive legislation delivers on our promise to the American people to lower prescription drug prices by allowing the federal government to negotiate, eliminating price gouging, and capping out-of-pocket costs.


“I look forward to helping move this legislation to the House floor.


“While we work on these bills, we should also continue our work on legislation that addresses the other factors of rising drug prices.


“This past August, I introduced the REFUND Act, which would protect Medicare beneficiaries from wasteful spending on excessively large single-use drug vials. This commonsense legislation would enable seniors and the Medicare program to recoup money wasted on these oversized vials.


“Earlier this month, Congressman Brett Guthrie and I led 90 of our House colleagues on a bipartisan letter to the FDA on drug shortages, which can increase the cost of vital drugs in some cases.


“And last week, Congressman Larry Bucshon and I introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act. This legislation would create federal programs to the promote the use of biosimilar drugs, which are generic versions of high-priced biologics.


“Our constituents are demanding action on high drug prices and I am honored to serve on this committee, which is leading the effort to fix the epidemic of price gouging.”