Rick Scott: PhRMA hasn't provided 'a single answer' on lower drug prices

Rick Scott: PhRMA hasn't provided 'a single answer' on lower drug prices
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is calling out the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), accusing the nation's top lobby for drugmakers on Monday of failing to provide "a single answer or solution to our questions" on lowering prescription drug prices.

Scott's comments are the latest in a fight over how best to lower drug prices for consumers.

Scott and seven of his Republican colleagues wrote to PhRMA President Stephen Ubl on June 5 asking the trade group to detail their solutions to the problem. The group has ramped up its lobbying this year to push back on many proposals that target the drug industry over high costs.

“What specific plans do you have to address price disparities in the international market? And are you willing to work with us to find real solutions to help American people?” the letter asked.

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Ubl responded last Thursday, July 11, touting that drug prices fell 0.6 percent in 2018, which he said is the largest decline in prices in 46 years.

“Despite the progress that has been made recently in these and other areas, I recognize that many Americans still struggle to afford their prescription medicines. PhRMA is committed to continuing to work with Congress to find meaningful market-based solutions to address affordability issues for patients,” the letter reads.

Ubl said PhRMA has worked with the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been in regular communication with the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

That answer wasn't good enough for Scott. “Unfortunately, their response didn’t provide a single answer or solution to our questions. Not one," he said in his response Monday.

“Families across the country are struggling to afford life-saving medication, and the industry cannot come up with one idea about how to lower list prices of prescription drugs. That’s unacceptable. This is a crisis that demands immediate attention. All talk, no action is the old Washington way – but not anymore,” he said in a statement.

PhRMA declined to comment on Scott’s response.

The latest back-and forth comes as pressure is intensifying on lawmakers to pass drug pricing legislation, a priority for both parties and President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE. Groups pushing for pricing reform have also expressed frustration at the pace of work in Congress.

The Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act, which would limit drug companies from using the patent system to extend monopolies, was approved by the Judiciary Committee, and the Finance Committee is drafting a package to limit drug price increases in Medicare.

Scott also has his own legislation, the America First Drug Pricing Plan, which he introduced in May.

The bill would have pharmacies inform patients what it would cost to purchase drugs out-of-pocket instead of using their insurance. Insurance companies would have to tell patients the total costs of drugs prior to open enrollment.

It would also require that companies can’t charge consumers more for prescription drugs than they charge consumers in other industrialized nations.