WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Union Leader published an op-ed by Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, in which she makes the case for several bipartisan reforms that would help lower prescription drug costs. She discusses legislation to make more generic drugs available, highlighting bipartisan bills that became law in December as well as two bipartisan bills that she recently introduced. While more work is needed to take on Big Pharma and bring down prescription drug prices across the board, these reforms could make a real difference, putting money back in people’s pockets.
Senator Hassan wrote in the piece, “These reforms are one part of our broader efforts to lower medication costs. They also demonstrate what we can accomplish when we put aside our differences and work together -- it gives us a blueprint for bipartisan success on other issues going forward.”
Read Senator Hassan’s full op-ed here or below:
OVER 18 years, Jazz Pharmaceuticals has collected more than $13 billion in revenue for a medication used to treat narcolepsy. And using an obscure patent rule, Jazz has blocked competitors from coming to market, keeping prices artificially high and denying consumers more choices.
This is just the latest example of big pharmaceutical companies doing everything that they can to block competition and keep prices sky high so that they can rake in record profits — even as Americans are struggling to afford the medications that they need to stay alive and to stay healthy. Companies like Jazz — highlighted in a recent article — demonstrate why we in Congress must keep working together to stand up to Big Pharma and lower costs for families.
The overwhelming majority of Americans agree on this, but for years prescription drug prices have been increasing with no end in sight. This changed last year when we passed the Inflation Reduction Act and won a major victory over Big Pharma — giving Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices and capping the price of insulin at $35 a month for Medicare beneficiaries. But now, with a divided government, some assert that any further progress is unrealistic.
But we don’t give up in New Hampshire. Every day, whether in Town Meetings or at small businesses, Granite Staters roll up their sleeves and work together to solve problems. We listen to each other — including those with whom we deeply disagree — because we understand that it is less important to win the argument than it is to solve the problem.
Even during these polarized times, I believe that this Granite State way of doing things can make a tangible difference in bringing down prescription drug costs. To be sure, there is much more work that we must do, but there are still concrete, common sense steps that we can take now in order to make progress.
This is why I am working with my Republican colleagues to pass two laws that will help make generic medications more accessible and affordable for all Americans.
The first proposal, which I introduced with Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, would finally close the loopholes that allow Jazz Pharmaceuticals and other companies to slow down the release of better, and often cheaper, drugs — lining their pockets in the process.
The second, which I introduced with Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, helps the FDA streamline the approval process for generic drugs, helping them reach the market faster. Both of these laws are common sense ways to lower drug prices and put patients, rather than the interests of companies like Jazz Pharmaceuticals, first.
I know that we can forge meaningful bipartisan progress on lowering prescription drug costs because we have done it before.
Last December, I helped bring Republicans and Democrats together to pass a series of reforms that will make a real difference in expanding access to more affordable, generic prescription drugs. One law expedites and streamlines the FDA’s process of getting biosimilars — medications similar to brand-name drugs used to treat serious and complex conditions such as diabetes and cancer — onto the market. Another reform prevents brand-name drug manufacturers from using last-minute labeling changes to block the sale of generic drugs.
These reforms are one part of our broader efforts to lower medication costs. They also demonstrate what we can accomplish when we put aside our differences and work together — it gives us a blueprint for bipartisan success on other issues going forward.
Contending with an illness or a chronic condition is never easy, and Big Pharma is certainly not backing down without a fight. But by taking concrete, bipartisan steps, we can take the next steps in making medication more affordable, so people can focus more on their health, not their pocketbooks. If Republicans and Democrats continue to work together, we can not only make a real difference for families’ bottom lines, but we can also demonstrate once again that bipartisan progress is possible.