June 28, 2022

Senators Warren and King and Representatives Doggett, Castro, Porter, and Jacobs Lead 100 Lawmakers Urging HHS to Exercise Authority to Lower Drug Prices Immediately

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, along with Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.), led a group of 100 members from across the ideological spectrum to urge Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to swiftly act and use his existing authorities to lower prices on critical prescription drugs.

“High U.S. medicine prices are the result of prescription drug corporations using their monopoly power to hike prices and pad their bottom lines,” wrote the lawmakers. “Meanwhile, U.S. law forbids direct government negotiations and other restrictions on pharmaceutical pricing. This uniquely American combination of rules has led to pharmaceutical companies making more money in the U.S. than the rest of the world combined for the 20 top-selling drugs.”

“We thank you and President Biden for your leadership in seeking relief for many of these patients by calling for Congress to finally allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for a selection of high-priced, brand-name drugs and to prevent prices for all drugs from rising faster than the rate of inflation. We stand committed to delivering on these vital legislative priorities,” the lawmakers continued. “But to provide the urgent relief that Americans demand, including patients who would not initially benefit from Medicare drug price negotiations, you must simultaneously use the executive tools readily at your disposal.” 

The administration has two long standing statutory authorities to waive patent monopolies and assure reasonable drug prices, including taxpayer protection authority under the Bayh-Dole Act and broad competitive licensing authority under Section 1498. Requesting that the Secretary take action as soon as possible, the lawmakers wrote, “You can provide immediate relief for millions of patients from Big Pharma’s price gouging and show millions more Americans that you, President Biden, and his administration are on their side.”

This letter is supported by Public Citizen, T1 International, Indivisible, Social Security Works, People’s Action, Center for Popular Democracy, PrEP4All, and the Action Center on Race and the Economy.

Senator Warren has called on the government to use every tool to lower drug prices and crack down on corporate profiteering to bring down consumer costs:

  • In April 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra, sharing the findings from a letter that over 25 legal and public health experts sent to her outlining three powerful legal tools the Biden administration could use to lower drug prices. 
  • In March 2022, Senator Warren and her colleagues called out drug manufacturers for squeezing American families with rapid and widespread price hikes on prescription drugs.
  • On February 18, 2022, Senators Warren, Angus King (I-Maine), and Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) urged HHS to exercise march-in rights for life-saving cancer drug Xtandi to dramatically lower its price for millions of Americans.
  • On February 2, 2022, during a hearing of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth, Senator Warren called out big pharma and insurance companies’ tricks to squeeze taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries. She also called for passage of the Build Back Better Act, which includes provisions that could generate billions in savings and give the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate prices on some high-price drugs.
  • In June 2021, Senator Warren led a letter questioning PhRMA's lobbying efforts to block policies that would lower drug costs for millions of Americans.
  • At a Senate Finance Committee hearing in May 2021, Senator Warren called for trade negotiations that put patients over big pharma profits
  • Senator Warren has also introduced legislation that would radically reduce drug prices through public manufacturing of prescription drugs, including the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act with Congresswoman Schakowsky. With Senator Shaheen, she introduced the End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drug Ads Act, legislation that would close a big pharma advertising loophole