Evans: Bill would help rein in drug costs; Cites example of 10-year-old Philadelphian with diabetes
Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-03) today voted to advance a bill that would help rein in the high cost of prescription drugs.
“I know that many Philadelphians struggle with the high cost of their medicine, and this bill would take several important steps to make those prices more affordable. Today I shared with the committee the story of Chase, a 10-year-old Philadelphian who has diabetes,” Evans said. “There’s more to be done, but this bill is a good start.”
Evans serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes, trade, child welfare, Social Security and Medicare. Today, the committee voted out the Prescription Drug Sunshine, Transparency, Accountability and Reporting (STAR) Act, which includes several changes designed to make prescription drugs more affordable. The bill would:
- Require manufacturers to report on the causes of high drug prices. When a product increases more than 10 percent a year or 25 percent over three years, manufacturers would have to report on the cause of that increase;
- Direct drug and device companies to publicly report the price and quantity of the drug-free samples that they give to providers. Drug manufacturers spend significantly more on free samples than they do on direct-to-consumer advertising;
- Require the secretary of Health and Human Services to publish information about the discounts and rebates that pharmaceutical benefits managers – or PBMs - achieve in negotiations; and
- Require a study about the causes of price increases for drugs used in hospitals, and implement a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and Office of Inspector General recommendation to require all manufacturers to report average sales price if their drug is covered under Medicare Part B.
Evans gave these remarks in today’s committee hearing:
“The rising cost of prescription drugs has truly placed an undue hardship on all of our constituents around the country. This Committee has held two hearings this Congress regarding the rising costs of prescription drugs, highlighting the critical importance of this issue.
“Philadelphia is home to some of the best hospitals in the country. Just to name a few, we have: the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Jefferson University Hospital, Einstein Medical Center, Temple University Hospital and Chestnut Hill Hospital.
“Both the doctors and patients of these facilities have come to my office asking, ‘what is Congress doing about these drug prices?’
“Recently, I had a young man named Chase come into my office with his mom, Courtney, and the Mayor of Narberth, Andrea Deutsch, on behalf of the American Diabetes Association.
“Chase is 10 years old, and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. I sat with Chase in my office, and he told me about how diabetes affects his body, the process of managing his diabetes, and what it would mean if he did not have access to insulin to help control his blood sugar levels.
“The statement he left with me says, ‘I want lawmakers to help lower the price of insulin because there are individuals who can’t afford it and really need it. I want there to be a cure because diabetes is a dangerous illness. If there’s a cure it would mean my mom wouldn’t need to spend so much money on supplies.’
“This is what this bill is about. This is who we’re here for today. It is children like Chase, and their families who are paying the devastating cost of these rising drug prices.
“We’ve heard far too many stories of individuals and families across this country limiting their doses and skipping medications altogether to keep costs down while putting their health at risk. We can have all the miracle drugs in the world, but what good are they if people can’t afford them?
“I understand that this bill isn’t going to solve the entire issue of drug pricing overnight, but I applaud this necessary and critically important step in the right direction. By increasing transparency, Congress can have the information needed to help protect Americans from unreasonably high drug costs.
“I appreciate having the opportunity to speak in support of this bipartisan legislation to help ensure that all Americans have affordable access to the medical care they need and deserve.”
Media Contact: Ben Turner, Ben.Turner@mail.house.gov