January 11, 2023

Senators Warren, King and Representative Doggett Urge HHS to Use Its Authority to Lower the Price of Cancer Treatment Drug Xtandi

Prostate Cancer Drug Was Developed with Federal Funds, but Americans Pay as Much as Six Times the Cost Paid by Patients in Other Countries “HHS can and should use these existing authorities to deliver on the administration’s promises to lower prescription drug prices.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging the administration to follow through with its commitment to combat high prescription drug prices by protecting taxpayer investments in the development of the prostate cancer drug Xtandi.

“The Administration has the tools to bring relief to Americans now, including by using its existing authority to lower the cost of Xtandi,” wrote the lawmakers.

Over a year ago, prostate cancer patients submitted a formal request to HHS to exercise its march-in rights for the drug enzalutamide, known by its brand name as Xtandi. Provisions in the Bayh-Dole Act allow federal agencies to protect taxpayer investments by permitting the federal government to grant licenses to “responsible applicants” for products developed with federal funds. Despite the investments from U.S. taxpayers, Xtandi can still cost Americans as much as six times what it costs individuals in other high-income countries.

“You have the power to take on the monopoly abuses of the pharmaceutical industry and the responsibility to ensure Americans have affordable access to the medicines they need,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge you to send a clear message to companies trying to price gouge products that have been funded with taxpayer money by holding a long overdue public hearing on the Xtandi petition and determining whether to exercise the government’s rights.”

The letter is also signed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Representatives Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.).

Senator Warren has been a leading voice in Washington calling for lower prescription drug prices.

  • On February 18, 2022, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Angus King (I-Maine), and Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging him to move forward with the march-in petition submitted for the prostate cancer drug Xtandi.
  • In June 2022, Senators Warren and King and Representatives Doggett, 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 Secretary Becerra to swiftly act and use his existing authorities to lower prices on critical prescription drugs.
  • In April 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to Secretary 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 June 2021, Senator Warren and her Senate colleagues questioned PhRMA's lobbying efforts to block policies that would lower drug costs for millions of Americans.
  • In June 2021, Secretary Becerra told Senator Warren that HHS looks forward to working with Congress on lowering drug prices.