Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 13 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/6/16

The President Can Act to Curb Big Pharma Greed. These House Dems Explain

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   4 comments
Message Richard Eskow
Become a Fan
  (15 fans)

Reprinted from Our Future

Rep. Mark Pocan speaks with Richard Eskow on The Zero Hour

This week I spoke with Rep. Mark Pocan (D, WI) about an open letter to President Obama he is circulating to fellow members of Congress this week. It's an important letter, not only for its subject matter -- it addresses our current crisis in runaway drug costs -- but because it explains how the White House can address this issue without the need to pass legislation in the Republican-controlled House.

Most of us already know we've got a problem. A Kaiser survey released last week shows that 77 percent of Americans believe that "prescription drug costs are unreasonable."

They're right. As the letter notes, Gilead Sciences recently set a price of $84,000 for its 12-week course of Hepatitis C treatment -- even though, as activist Annette Gaudino explained last August on The Zero Hour, it charges a fraction of that cost in other countries and still turns a profit. The letter also attacks the "price-gouging and anti-competitive behavior" of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which jacked up the price of an EpiPen by nearly 500 percent over a five-year period.

Rep. Pocan's letter urges President Obama to "use executive action and take concrete steps" to address the drug cost crisis, and lists three tools that the president can use. The first is the Bayh-Dole Act, which gives the National Institutes of Health the power to ensure medications that were developed at taxpayer expense are accessible to the public at affordable rates.

Next, the president can use the authority granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, under the Medicare Drug Act of 2003, to allow the importation of lower-cost drugs from other countries under certain conditions.

Lastly, the president can direct the Federal Trade Commission to stop drug companies' monopolistic practices, especially when drug patent holders pay generic companies to delay lower-cost alternatives to market -- a practice that is sometimes called "pay for delay."

Most Americans already support strong action to rein in drug prices. The Kaiser survey showed, for example, that 82 percent of those polled support allowing the Federal government to negotiate drug prices and 71 percent support allowing Americans to purchase drugs imported for Canada.

(Image by Kaiser Family Foundation)   Details   DMCA

The Pocan letter is supported by a number of activist groups, including Social Security Works, People's Action, CREDO Action, and a number of other organizations. (See complete list below.)

A number of Democratic House members have signed Rep. Pocan's letter. (No Republicans have signed it, which is telling. The Bayh-Dole Act was a bipartisan piece of legislation, which seems unimaginable today.) They are listed below.

If your Representative's name isn't on the list, they have until Friday to sign it. This would be a good time to call their office and suggest that they do.

Groups Supporting the letter: CREDO Action, Social Security Works, People Demanding Action, the Other 98%, Courage Campaign, Progressive Congress, Blue America, Public Citizen, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Daily Kos, Public Leadership Institute, People's Action, and the Universities Allied for Essential Medicine.

(Note: I am affiliated with People's Action; Social Security Works sponsors The Zero Hour radio program on We Act Radio.)

House members who have signed the letter as of this writing:

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Richard Eskow Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

How to Fix the Fed: Dismiss Dimon, Boot the Bankers, and Can the Corporations

The Top 12 Political Fallacies of 2012

Pawn: The Real George Zimmerman Story

What America Would Look Like If Libertarians Got Their Way

"His Own Man's" Man: Jeb Bush and the Return of Wolfowitz

"F" The Bureaucracy! The White House Can Help Homeowners Right Now

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend