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With prescription drug prices continuing to crush families, employers, and taxpayers, we are heartened to see Congress take steps to lessen the overwhelming financial burden of medication costs.

Prescription drugs don’t work if you can’t afford them, a reality underscored by the 29 percent of Americans who can’t access the medications they need because they simply cost too much.

In fact, lowering drug prices would improve access — by making high-cost drugs affordable, more people can take their drugs as prescribed and reap their benefits.

In the past year, as the U.S. struggled against a global health crisis and economic slowdown, drug companies continued to raise prices on hundreds of prescription drugs, putting profits ahead of the wellbeing of those they purport to care for.

These same pharmaceutical companies have received extraordinary financial benefits from patent protections and publicly funded research while continuing to extract high prices and inflate their drug costs on the backs of patients, employers, and taxpayers.

Taxpayers’ burdens will only get heavier, with U.S. drug spending expected to grow to $820 billion in the coming years.

The American people are fed up, and they want Congress to take action.

The reintroduction of this historic piece of legislation demonstrates lawmakers’ commitments to putting their constituents’ needs first.

The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act aims to end price gouging by requiring drugmakers to reimburse taxpayers when drug prices rise faster than inflation, empowering Medicare with the ability to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, and limiting drug prices to the cheaper rates paid in other developed nations, giving Americans the same discounted prices available outside the U.S.‘s borders.

Contrary to the fear-mongering by pharma, the U.S. can contain out-of-control drug pricing without sacrificing true innovation.

That’s because so much of the pharmaceutical industry’s dollars have been used to invest in me-too” drugs rather than true” first-in-class drugs, as well as to extend patents, block competition, and generate more revenue rather than moving on to the next innovation. 

The federal government can negotiate a price for drugs without handcuffing innovation — a reality made evident in the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. This first-of-its-kind technology was made possible in part by government-funded research. The vaccines are widely available to hundreds of millions of people across the nation at no cost to them. This is the power, and the promise, of government negotiation.

As the U.S. mounts a recovery from COVID-19 and the financial downturn, lawmakers must take meaningful steps to lighten the load of excessive health care costs, including reining in prescription drug prices. We look forward to seeing additional momentum from Congress and the administration on drug pricing reform.