Sanders Announces HELP Committee Will Move Forward on Biden’s NIH Nominee
BURLINGTON, Vt., Sept. 8 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Friday issued the following statement after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a change in the department’s contract with Regeneron to guarantee that the company’s COVID-19 treatment must be reasonably priced:
I welcome the Biden Administration’s announcement today that if Regeneron, through a $326 million contract recently signed with HHS, successfully develops a next generation monoclonal antibody for COVID-19 prevention, the list price of this drug must be equal to or lower than the price in other major countries.
The American people are sick and tired of seeing billions of their tax dollars go towards the research and development of new treatments and cures only to end up paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, while the pharmaceutical industry makes record-breaking profits.
Today’s announcement is a positive step in the right direction. In my view, the Administration must include strong reasonable pricing requirements for all prescription drugs sold in America that were developed at taxpayer expense.
In light of the recent actions taken by HHS and a commitment I received from the White House to keep working to lower the price of prescription drugs, the HELP Committee will be holding a hearing on the nomination of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health in October.
I look forward to meeting with Dr. Bertagnolli to discuss what she is prepared to do at the NIH to substantially lower the outrageous price of prescription drugs in America. The NIH has done excellent work to research and develop new prescription drugs and treatments that have improved the lives of the American people and people throughout the world. But it has not done a good job in making sure that prescription drugs developed with taxpayer funding are sold at a reasonable price. According to a June HELP Committee Majority Staff Report, the average price of new treatments over the past 20 years that NIH scientists helped invent is $111,000. That has got to change. A prescription drug is not safe or effective if a patient who needs that drug cannot afford to purchase it.