Less than a week after Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) called on House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to hold a hearing on recent prescription drug price hikes, the Chairman announced a hearing to investigate the cause of and potential solutions to prevent skyrocketing drug prices.
In light of recent unacceptable price increases in the lifesaving EpiPen, Welch and Duckworth last week wrote a letter to Chaffetz requesting the hearing. "Earlier this year, you convened a hearing on the exorbitant price increases for Daraprim, Isuprel, and Nitropress. Executives from Turing and Valeant produced documents for the hearing and testified. We were able to get a glimpse at what motivated these companies to increase the prices simply because they could. In light of recent intolerable and inexplicable price increases in the life saving EpiPen, we write to request that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee hold a second hearing on this issue to take a broad look at the root cause of skyrocketing prescription drug prices as well as possible solutions," the lawmakers wrote.
Today the requested hearing was announced for Wednesday, September 21st.
"Prescription drugs can be life-saving and pain-reliving, but the skyrocketing prices are killing consumers," Rep. Welch said. "Meanwhile, big pharmaceutical corporations are raking in record profits. It is a bipartisan responsibility to ensure no parent has to lose a child because they can't afford medication. I look forward to working with my Committee colleagues to find bipartisan solutions to fix this broken market."
"Recent indefensible price hikes for EpiPens and other lifesaving medications underscore the cost of leaving corporate greed unchecked: when people can't afford the medications they or their children need, lives are at risk," Rep. Duckworth said. "We called for this hearing to shed light on how these outrageous prices have been set and, hopefully, offer solutions to prevent similar price-gouging in the future. I'm relieved the Chairman has recognized the need for this hearing."
As co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus Prescription Drug Task Force and the co-chair and co-founder of the House Affordable Medicine Caucus, Welch has long been a champion of lowering the price of prescription drugs for consumers. He has introduced the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical corporations. Earlier this year Welch led the fight against Pfizer skirting American tax obligations while jacking up prices for American consumers. In January, Rep. Welch testified before the Vermont Senate Health and Welfare and the House Human Services and Health Care committees on drug pricing transparency.
Duckworth, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform committee who has championed working parents and prioritized cutting waste and abuse in government, served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years and later served as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington. In Congress, she coauthored the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV (Suicide Prevention for American Veterans) Act, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law to improve mental health care services for Veterans and reduce Veteran suicide.