Taking action on rising prescription drug costs was the main focus of debate during the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s June 7 markup of legislation (H.R. 2430) to reauthorize the FDA’s user fees.
Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) called on the Energy and Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on prescription drug prices during the markup. Castor said she noticed that the Senate side is having a hearing on drug prices. That hearing will take place June 13 in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Pallone, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said ensuring patient access to affordable prescription drugs should be a top priority and this is a bipartisan issue.
Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) also said they were concerned about high prescription drug prices. Schakowsky said the committee was passing up an opportunity to do something about drug prices in the user fee bill.
Schakowsky did manage to get a “sense of Congress” amendment into the user fee bill, which directs lawmakers to work to lower prescription drug prices.
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), the only pharmacist in Congress, said he has witnessed “firsthand the dilemma that many patients face” when they can’t afford their prescriptions. Carter said Schakowsky’s amendment “is more than just a formality” and “we will continue to press on this.”
The user fees, paid by industry, help fund the Food and Drug Administration’s operations, and need to be reauthorized by Sept. 30. The Energy and Commerce Committee voted 54-0 to approve the legislation, which now goes to the House floor for consideration.
Read my full article on the user fee bill markup here.
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