Nurses Urge Changes to H.R. 3 to Protect Patients from High Drug Prices
National Nurses United (NNU) sent a letter today to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to make substantial changes to H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, before it is brought to a floor vote.
Registered nurses see the devastation caused to patients by price gouging and massive profit-taking by drug manufacturers. Many patients are unable to fill their prescriptions because they cannot afford the costs of their medicines or must resort to taking less than the recommended dosage—resulting in irreparable harm to their health and, in some cases, death. The crisis of high drug prices cannot be solved without fundamentally addressing the broken patent system that allows pharmaceutical companies to game the system and make a killing off the sickness of our patients.
The letter urges Congress to make the following changes to H.R. 3:
- Include competitive licensing of patented drugs in order to allow generic competition when negotiations fail to produce a fair price.
- Apply negotiated drug prices to uninsured patients, and to patients whose insurance plan does not cover drugs negotiated by the Secretary of HHS.
- Increase the number of drugs that are negotiated every year, and increase the number of drugs that are eligible for negotiation.
- Expand protections against price spikes outside of Medicare by expanding inflationary rebates to all drug sales.
- Include mechanisms, such as an expanded clawback mechanism, to constrain launch price gouging that may occur before a drug becomes eligible for negotiation.
- Strike the noninterference clause in Medicare Part D that prohibits the federal government from negotiating drug prices with manufacturers.
The letter concludes: “It is far past time that Congress effectively addresses the broken system that has allowed pharmaceutical companies to charge unconscionably high prices for medicines. This is why NNU champions Medicare for All, which would allow Medicare to negotiate the costs of all prescription drugs for all patients in the country, as the comprehensive answer to the drug pricing crisis. Short of enacting Medicare for All, we strongly urge you to expand H.R. 3 so that this legislation will bring down the costs of more prescription drugs for more patients.”
The full letter, with more detailed information on each of the changes, is available here.
National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with more than 150,000 members nationwide. NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease, and workplace violence prevention.