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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) this week discussed the importance of making drug pricing legislation a bipartisan effort to ensure Americans are able to access the medications they need at an affordable price. Thune also discussed the harm that would be done by Speaker Pelosi’s prescription drug bill.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, over in the House today, the Ways and Means Committee is marking up Speaker Pelosi’s prescription drug bill, the latest installment in Democrats’ campaign for government-run health care.
“Like Democrats’ other plan for a government takeover of health care, so-called Medicare for All, the Pelosi drug bill would ultimately leave Americans worse off when it comes to access to care.
“Mr. President, there’s no question that the American health care system isn’t perfect.
“High drug costs are a problem, and one in four seniors reports difficulty affording medications.
“Stories of patients being forced to ration pills or abandon their prescription at the pharmacy counter are unacceptable.
“But upending the entire American health care system is not the answer.
“A strong majority of Americans are happy with their health insurance coverage and the quality of the health care they receive.
“And Americans have access to treatments that individuals in other countries simply don’t have access to.
“Take cancer drugs, for example.
“Between 2011 and 2018, 82 new cancer drugs became available.
“U.S. patients have access to 96 percent of them.
“In Germany, by contrast, patients have access to just 73 percent of those drugs.
“In France, just 66 percent.
“And in Japan, patients only have access to 54 percent.
“In other words, Japanese patients are missing out on access to roughly half of the new cancer drugs that emerged between 2011 and 2018.
“So why do Americans have such tremendous access to new drugs, while other countries trail behind?
“Because the U.S. government doesn’t dictate drug prices or drug coverage.
“That’s also the reason why American companies lead the world in medical innovation.
“Back in 1986, investment in drug research by European drug companies exceeded U.S. investment by approximately 24 percent.
“But that all changed when European governments stepped in and started imposing price controls.
“Today, European investment in drug research and development is almost 40 percent lower than U.S. investment.
“Speaker Pelosi’s bill would start the process of destroying the system that has produced so much access and innovation for American patients.
“Her legislation would impose government price controls on as many as 250 medications.
“If the progressives in her caucus had their way, the bill would impose government price controls on all medications.
“Either way, the result is likely to look much the same as we have seen before – reduced access to lifesaving treatments, and substantially reduced investment for the prescription-drug breakthroughs of the future.
“Under the Pelosi bill, Americans could look forward to a future where we might be the ones losing out on a quarter or more of the new cancer drugs coming to market.
“Mr. President, there’s no question that we need to find solutions to drive down drug costs.
“But the answer to the problem of high drug costs is not to destroy the system that has given American patients access to so many new cures and treatments.
“Republicans want to develop bipartisan legislation focused on lowering prescription drug costs without destroying the American system of access and innovation.
“The Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee have spent a lot of time this year working on this issue, and work on truly bipartisan solutions remains ongoing.
“Earlier this year, House committees advanced drug pricing legislation on a bipartisan basis.
“But unfortunately House Democrats have made it clear that they’re more interested in playing politics than in cooperating on legislation to address the challenges facing American families.
“Democrats know that the Pelosi drug bill has no chance of passing the Senate, but they’ve chosen to pursue this socialist fantasy instead of working with Republicans to develop a bipartisan prescription drug bill that isn’t just price controls and might actually go somewhere.
“Like Democrats’ larger socialist fantasy, Medicare for All, the Pelosi drug bill would ultimately hurt the very people it’s supposed to help, in this case by restricting their access to lifesaving drugs and future prescription-drug innovations.
“The Pelosi drug bill is a bad prescription for Americans.”