Imagine if your health or a family member’s health depended on access to prescription medications. Without it, you or a loved one would be at serious risk. What would you do if you couldn’t afford the medication?
Unfortunately, millions of Americans face this gut-wrenching decision every day because Congress has declined to fully tackle the rising cost of prescription drugs.
More than 130 million adults in the United States rely on prescription drugs to maintain their health or treat a medical condition. Whether they’re used to treat cancer, diabetes, or a common illness, prescription medications can save lives, get people healthy, and help maintain quality of life.
But the cost of prescription drugs has been skyrocketing. A recent report from AARP found that the price of brand-name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans has been hiked at a higher rate than inflation every single year since 2006.
An overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Americans recognize that rising prescription drug costs are unreasonable and a growing problem. Even more alarming is how Americans are dealing with these high prices: a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that close to 30 percent of American adults haven’t taken medication as prescribed specifically because of cost barriers.
Millions of Americans skipping recommended critical medication simply because they can’t afford it is outrageous. No family should have to decide whether to fill a prescription or put food on the table.
For years, Congress has failed to make meaningful progress on prescription drug reform. But we know there are commonsense solutions to this challenge.
That’s why I introduced the Expanding Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices Act. This legislation would help bring down the cost of prescription drugs and medical devices, decrease the frequency of drug shortages, spur innovation, boost domestic production, and create jobs right here in the United States.
The way this would work is by providing direct federal support to nonprofit prescription drug and device manufacturers. Through cooperative agreement grant funding, improved access to capital through a revolving low-interest loan program, and clarification of tax-exempt status, the bill would invest in medical innovation at companies focused on people, not profits. These businesses are driven by one mission — developing and manufacturing affordable, high-quality drugs and devices to help Americans address their most important medical needs.
Whether it’s access to cancer-treating medication or insulin pumps, my plan would help drive down costs, increase competition, and improve the domestic supply chain for critical prescription drugs and medical devices.
I’m not alone in seeing increased support for nonprofit manufacturers as a key solution to the high cost of prescription drugs. The Biden administration and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) support investing in nonprofit manufacturers and have endorsed the concept as part of their own plan to lower costs.
This legislative approach has also been endorsed by a wide range of organizations, from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Insurers, medical systems, patient organizations, and nonprofits are coming together to support this legislation because we need innovative solutions now.
As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and work to build back our economy stronger than before, Congress is finally gearing up to take steps forward on expanding access to quality, affordable health care, including lowering the costs of prescription drugs. Increased support for nonprofit manufacturers is a vitally important strategy for us to tackle these issues that can earn broad support.
At a moment when there is so much focus on threats to our health, we have a real opportunity to overcome one of the most prevalent health obstacles Americans face: the lack of affordable prescription drugs. Let’s get it done.
Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenProgressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Nevada becomes early Senate battleground Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll MORE is a Democratic senator from Nevada and a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.