Today, Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced the Patient Access to Drugs in Shortage Act (HR 6611). He introduced the bill with Congressmen Andy Harris (R-MD), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Dan Benishek (R-MI).
This legislation would resolve America's severe shortage of many life-saving drugs. Currently, the artificially low Medicare reimbursement rate for generic sterile injectable drugs discourages their production. The bill would increase production by pegging the reimbursement rate to a figure which accurately reflects the value of those drugs. Additionally, the bill includes a special provision for when a drug is in short supply by incentivizing brand name drug manufacturers to enter and stabilize the market.
"We hear from patients, doctors and hospitals that every day, shortages of cancer chemotherapy medicines and other drugs affect a patient's treatment. This legislation adjusts how Medicare pays for medicine so as to decrease the risk of a drug shortage. said Congressman Cassidy. "It is good for everyone. Patients are more likely to have their life saving drugs. Medicare saves money by eliminating the need to substitute much more expensive medicines for inexpensive generics. Doctors and hospitals, which currently spend a lot of resources dealing with drug shortages, can focus on better care for patients with less hassle and expense."
"As a doctor who has treated patients for nearly 30 years, I am proud to support this important legislation to prevent drug shortages in this nation. During my first term in Congress, both citizens in Northern Michigan and my former colleagues have expressed their concerns about pending drug shortages and their impact on the ability to treat patients. I want to thank Rep. Bill Cassidy for his leadership on this issue and his efforts to propose a comprehensive solution," said Rep. Dan Benishek, a general surgeon from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
"As a physician, there is nothing more frustrating than not having access to a drug a patient desperately needs," said Congressman Harris. "This legislation will improve the care patients receive by alleviating some of the drug shortages that have become all too prevalent."
"As a cancer survivor, I know that timely access to treatment can mean the difference between life and death for patients," said Congressman Rogers, who represents Michigan's Eighth Congressional District and is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Today cancer patients are still suffering unacceptable delays and shortages for critical oncology drugs. This legislation will help to ensure that more of these life-savings drugs are quickly available to patients who need them."
"I began working on the drug shortage issue nearly two years ago after meeting with doctors and hospital administrators in my district, who warned me that they faced shortages of critical, life-saving medicines," said Congressman Rooney. "We took an important step to reduce shortages and save lives last year by passing a bipartisan bill I introduced with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) that gives the FDA, doctors and pharmacists more tools to identify, respond to and prepare for drug shortages. Now, we need to take the next step and help prevent shortages from occurring in the first place."
Attachments to this release include an overview of the bill, a Frequently Asked Questions document and a letter to House colleagues from Congressman Cassidy asking for their support. Additionally, a copy of Congressman Cassidy's Wall Street Journal op-ed Not Enough Cancer Drugs, Too Many Price Controls with Dr. Patrick Cobb, and support letters from the National Patient Advocate Foundation, Community Oncology Alliance and AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group, are attached.