WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the Biden administration’s draft guidance to exercise “march-in” rights, which empower the government to authorize cheaper generic options for expensive patented drugs developed with taxpayer funds:

“The new framework shows the Biden administration continues to be concerned about the outrageous prescription drug costs that burden American families across the country. Progressives have long fought for federal action to lower prescription drug costs, including in the 117th Congress, in our 2022 Executive Action Agenda, and in our 2023 Agenda released this March. If the final policy is strong, Democrats would be able to add it to a powerful list of reforms — including capping the cost of insulin at $35/month and capping seniors’ out of pocket drug costs — that make a real difference in middle- and working-class people’s lives. 

“While we appreciate the administration’s work to address this issue from our Executive Action Agenda, we are concerned that this rule needs to be strengthened and given teeth or it will not fulfill the full promise of march-in rights. The guidance acknowledges that the high cost of drugs should be a factor in the government's determination of whether to employ its march-in authorities, but it does not provide sufficient grounds to actually take on Big Pharma's corporate profiteering or the egregious drug pricing schemes that force people to ration prescriptions, travel to Canada for lower prices, or go without life saving medication."

“As the Biden administration finalizes this guidance, progressives will be looking for key changes to strengthen it. First, the guidance must meaningfully take on Big Pharma’s price gouging that forces Americans to pay two to four times the price for the same drug as in neighboring countries. This is egregious conduct on Big Pharma’s part and that conduct should be clearly defined. Second, it should ensure the benefits of publicly funded research and development for new drugs go back to the taxpayer, rather than to line the pockets of pharmaceutical corporations. Third, the administration must instruct federal agencies to license affordable generic alternatives to prohibitively expensive drugs such as Xtandi, which is used to treat prostate cancer. These reforms must be applied as broadly as possible, without unnecessary restrictions that limit agencies’ power, and enforce real accountability mechanisms for Big Pharma when it tries to evade these requirements. 

“It is far past time we use every tool available to lower the costs of prescription drugs and ensure life saving medications are available and affordable for the people who need them most. The Progressive Caucus looks forward to being deeply engaged with the Commerce Department and the Department of Health and Human Services throughout the comment process to create policy with the greatest impact possible.”