Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) released the following statement on the introduction of H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act:

“Since January, we have worked diligently to ensure that Democratic leadership understands the top priorities of the CPC as legislation is being crafted to tackle the crisis of soaring prescription drug prices. Americans across the political spectrum want to see Congress act boldly to bring down prices and end price-gouging from Big Pharma. This is our opportunity for our Democratic majority to lead with vision and show working families that we’re fighting for them.

“In a letter last month to Speaker Pelosi, we reiterated our top priorities: to require direct negotiation between the federal government and pharmaceutical companies, exclude any arbitration scheme from the legislation, incorporate robust safeguards to bring Big Pharma to the table and protect patient access, and not limit the number of drugs that could be subject to negotiation.

“We were pleased to see that H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act, includes negotiation and excludes arbitration – two important criteria for any meaningful prescription drug bill.

“While there are certainly some provisions in the proposed legislation that are designed to bring Big Pharma to the table, we are concerned that these will not be sufficient for that purpose and that the mechanism of a penalty for not negotiating will simply be passed down to the consumer.

“We do have a big concern that negotiating on 25 drugs each year, at a time when millions of people can’t afford the medicines that keep them alive, is woefully insufficient. We believe we can do better. Having a much more substantial floor of 250 drugs per year would show the American people that we’re serious about bringing down medicine prices across the board and would allow less capacity to constantly shift price-gouging activities to different drugs.

“We are also still exploring whether this legislation adequately addresses the issue of sky-high launch prices for new drugs, as well as the potential for cost-shifting to consumers outside of Medicare. Big Pharma will exploit any loophole to continue price-gouging patients – it’s our job as a Congress to protect consumers from exploitation.

“House Democrats regained the majority last year buoyed by our promise to tackle out of control drug prices. We appreciate Speaker Pelosi meeting with us today to receive our constructive feedback. We see this as the beginning of the negotiation process and we look forward to working with Democratic Leadership and the relevant committees to improve this legislation in the coming weeks.”