Unlike Pelosi, House Republicans have a bipartisan cure for prescription drug costs

December 19, 2019
Editorials

Originally Published by The Washington Examiner

As physicians and healthcare providers, and now policymakers, we believe that innovation will drive the cost of healthcare down more than any new law or policy. Whether here in Congress or in our office as a physician, we strive to keep patients out of the hospital and at home and healthy with their loved ones. Having the best tools and medicine in our toolkit helps us achieve that mission.


Patients deserve access to cutting-edge medicine that is going to treat, and maybe even cure, Alzheimer’s or diabetes. We need to make sure the next miracle drug sitting in the approval pipeline that could cure childhood cancers, as well as metastatic breast, lung, skin, prostate, or pancreatic cancers, are more quickly available for your loved ones. Lives literally depend on it.

While we were in medical and dental school, there were simply no cures or good treatment options for most cancers, leukemia, hepatitis, depression, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Within the last decade we’ve seen groundbreaking medical miracles. One notable example is former President Jimmy Carter, who had widespread metastatic melanoma, and was treated by a groundbreaking immunotherapy drug. Thanks to American research and ingenuity, we have medicine unlike the world has ever seen – such as CAR T-cell therapy.

Two therapies were approved by the Food and Drug Administration within the last two years to defeat lymphoma and acute pediatric lymphoblastic leukemia. More recently, the FDA approved a miracle drug for cystic fibrosis, which impacts 30,000 Americans. And finally, it’s worth mentioning that just six years ago, Hepatitis C was a death sentence. Thanks to investments in innovation, 3.5 million people with Hepatitis C can now take a pill once a week for 12 weeks and be completely cured.

None of these treatments would have been made available if it weren’t for the U.S. protecting innovation and encouraging innovators to be pioneers.

Last year, national healthcare spending reached $3.6 trillion. About one-third of all healthcare spending is tied to hospital care while prescription drugs make up 9%. About 28% of the federal budget is now being spent directly on healthcare. If we are ever going to balance the federal budget we must get the cost of healthcare under control. Protecting and streamlining the next miracle drugs are an obvious way to help do that. We cannot even begin to guess what the savings to Medicare costs would be if we had the cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia and other illnesses where Medicare is the single largest payer.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently introduced, and the House passed, H.R. 3, a government price-fixing bill that would absolutely decimate private research and development for potential future miracle drugs to ever come to market. As with any other industry, the federal government takeover of medicine will halt innovation and lower quality. While it may seem popular today to demonize western medicine, America is still the gold standard and global leader in cutting-edge medicine. Of note, of the 270 drugs which have come to the world market since 2011, 100% are available to patients in America compared to 8% in China, 41% in Australia, 52% in Canada, and 67% in Germany. With that said, as policymakers, we recognize the need to balance innovation while appropriately addressing shortcomings in our system.

We’re addressing these failures head on. Our solution is H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act. The provisions in this legislation are bipartisan and will lower out-of-pocket patient spending, protect access to new medicines and cures, strengthen transparency, and champion competition. We want to promote innovation, which requires government getting out of the way – not more government red-tape. H.R. 19 will make the process for FDA drug approval far more streamlined, and among other things, promote generic competition. Finally, for the first time ever, this bill provides seniors and Medicare recipients a cap on out-of-pocket drug spending which allows them to budget their out-of-pocket expenses annually.

We want to reiterate that every single provision in this legislative alternative is bipartisan. H.R. 19 could actually become law. We truly can lower drug costs for consumers without destroying innovation, unlike H.R. 3.

Thanks to the Trump administration’s leadership, people now have twice the number of generic drugs approved per year in comparison to previous administrations, and the actual cost of prescriptions have gone down slightly for the first time in modern medical history.

This is just the beginning – Republicans are ready to do more to work together with Democrats to lower prescription drug prices without killing ingenuity with government control. As physicians and healthcare providers, we will continue to advocate for incentivizing good health and prevention. Let’s get to work and deliver meaningful solutions to all.

– Reps. Roger Marshall, M.D., of Kansas; Earl “Buddy” Carter, RPh, of Georgia; Greg Murphy, M.D., of North Carolina; David Roe, M.D., of Tennessee; John Joyce, M.D., of Pennsylvania; Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M., of Ohio; Andy Harris, M.D., of Maryland; Neal Dunn, M.D., of Florida; Brian Babin, D.D.S., of Texas; Drew Ferguson, D.M.D., of Texas; Mark Green, M.D., of Tennessee; Larry Bucshon, M.D., of Indiana, Ralph Abraham, M.D., of Louisiana, Scott DesJarlais, M.D., of Tennessee; and Michael Burgess, M.D., of Texas

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