Americans want cheaper, generic drugs — time for Congress to deliver

Americans want cheaper, generic drugs — time for Congress to deliver
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Primary Plasma Cell Leukemia is one of the rarest and most aggressive forms of Multiple Myeloma. It only affects 150 patients in the U.S. per year, but this is the reality that befell Paul Kleutghen of St. James, N.C. Paul, a career veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, now has to take daily chemotherapy, and a regiment of three different drugs.

Paul’s daily chemotherapy costs $750 per day and has a Medicare co-payment of $575 for a three-week cycle of drugs. Luckily, Paul is making it by financially, but for other individuals, and families, these costs are unrealistic, and could amount to a death sentence. Something has to change.

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There are very few things, when it comes to politics, upon which most Americans can agree. However, the need to lower prescription drug prices is one of these rare breeds. One would think that, with this bipartisan agreement, a common sense solution could be enacted.

Such a solution does exist, and it comes in the form of the CREATES Act. As one would expect, the measure is drawing support from all reaches of the political spectrum. Its Senate sponsors include fixtures of the conservative movement, like Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeBipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs McConnell shores up GOP support for coronavirus package McConnell tries to unify GOP MORE (R-Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Rand Paul says he can't judge 'guilt or innocence' in Breonna Taylor case Overnight Health Care: Health officials tell public to trust in science | Despair at CDC under Trump influence | A new vaccine phase 3 trial starts MORE (R-Ky.), and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish Trump argues full Supreme Court needed to settle potential election disputes MORE (R-Texas). It also includes stalwart Democrats, like Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Battle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy MORE (D-Vt.), Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (D-Minn.), and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (D-Ill.).

This legislation helps lower prescription drug prices without instituting big government price controls or antitrust enforcement. It eliminates some loopholes that brand pharmaceutical companies have been using to prevent generic competition from gaining access to the market. It also gives generics legal recourse to obtain the samples they need to gain FDA approval. It is a free market approach to lowering prices for patients and caregivers across the nation.

Despite the far-reaching support and wide range of benefits, no action has been taken on the CREATES Act. It has been just over 11 months since the bill was introduced. Part of the reason for this inaction is the smear campaign being run by Big Pharma against the bill. This disinformation is being spread by interest groups and advocacy organizations on both sides of the aisle.

Now, it seems Democrats are trying to turn the frustration over this inaction into anger towards President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE. President Trump promised in his State of the Union address to fix the “injustice” of high drug prices. However, there is no reason this needs to become a partisan issue for either side ahead of any election. Instead, it should actually be fixed. Instead of using patients and caregivers as campaign slogans, help them.

Not only is there the aforementioned bipartisan support, but the support of the public is behind moving this forward. A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation last month showed that 52 percent of people surveyed thought lowering drug prices should be a “top priority.” They didn’t say it should merely be addressed. They said it should be a top priority. That’s how important this is to American families. Another Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 80 percent think that current drug prices are unreasonable and 72 percent think the pharmaceutical industry has too much influence in Washington. They’re not wrong.

Congressional leadership failed to deliver on substantive health care reform last year. The CREATES Act is a common sense measure that makes sense both on its merits and politically. If leadership wants to show it is serious about improving the quality of life for American families, and ensuring that hard-working Americans can keep more of their earnings, allowing a vote on the CREATES Act is a no-brainer.

We are less than a year and a half removed from a presidential election that saw President Trump elected on the promise of “draining the swamp” and reducing the influence of special interests on our political process. If our elected leaders continue to allow big pharmaceutical companies to manipulate our laws to give themselves monopolies and to squeeze every penny out of Americans’ pockets, this will constitute a massive breach of trust with the American people, and each one of them will deserve the electoral reckoning that will surely come their way.

Jason Pye is the vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks. Daniel Savickas is the legislative outreach manager for FreedomWorks.