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Public Statements

Safeguarding America's Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, although this bill takes important steps to secure our nation's pharmaceutical supply chain, we need to do more to protect patients and the public health.

For over a year, I have been investigating the problem of so-called ``gray market'' drug companies that take advantage of critical drug shortages to charge exorbitant prices.

Working with the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee, we identified numerous cases in which gray market drug companies were able to get their hands on shortage drugs when hospitals and other providers could not. And in many cases, these middleman companies exploited national drug shortages by charging exorbitant mark-ups for drugs used to treat cancer and other life threatening conditions.

This kind of price gouging is unconscionable, and it represents a serious threat to patients' health and safety.

Our investigation found that in more than two-thirds of cases, prescription drugs entered the gray market through pharmacies. These pharmacies purchased their drugs from authorized distributors, but instead of dispensing them to providers or patients in accordance with state laws, the pharmacies re-sold them to gray market wholesalers.

For these reasons, I introduced the Gray Market Drug Reform and Transparency Act to implement reforms in this area and to protect consumers and providers from exploitation.

I am encouraged that the bill before us takes up one of my proposals, which is to require wholesalers to register and report annually to the FDA, including on their disciplinary actions. Although this is a step in the right direction, the bill fails to make this information publicly available, which is critical to consumers, healthcare providers, and state boards of pharmacy.

The bill also fails to close the primary loophole by which drugs enter the gray market, by prohibiting wholesalers from buying drugs from pharmacies.

We need to put an end to unethical profiteering at the expense of patients with cancer and other critical illnesses, and I hope we can add these common sense provisions to H.R. 1919 in conference negotiations.

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