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Brindisi Working to Rein in High Prescription Drug Prices

December 4, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., knows the stories all too well.

Time and again during town halls and community events in his district, he’s heard the first-hand stories of hardworking families who’ve had to choose between paying for a loved one’s life-saving medicine and putting food on their table.

“I heard from one woman whose cancer medication cost $30,000 every few months,” the congressman told The Well News.

“This is unacceptable and highlights the fact that Congress needs to act,” Brindisi said.

The representative has proposed legislation to help bring down the overall cost of health care, general, and prescription drug costs, in particular.

Earlier this year, Brindisi reached across the aisle and worked with Republican Rep. John Joyce, of Pennsylvania, to introduce H.R. 2455, also known as the “Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act.” 

The bipartisan bill mandates steps the Food and Drug Administration can reduce the time it takes for generic drugs to come to market. 

Brindisi’s legislation would give the agency the ability to deny petitions if the primary purpose of the petition is to delay the drug’s transition to the generic marketplace.

“I think we need to take a holistic and systemic approach to high drug prices in a way that lowers costs for patients and protects innovation,” he said, explaining his approach to the issue.

“I am supportive of many pieces of legislation that will get more affordable generic drugs to market, cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors, and provide stricter oversight of pharmaceutical companies and the middle-men who take a cut from patients,” Brindisi said.

“I wish this bill had more bipartisan buy-in and I am hopeful that my friends on the other side of the aisle will buy-in to some of these common-sense reforms,” he said.

Brindisi is co-chairman of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, which last month endorsed and called on Congress to take up a series of prescription drug pricing bills that they believe, if taken up individually, could pass a Democratic-led House and a Republican-led Senate.

These included measures that would prohibit pharmaceutical companies from engaging in anti-competitive conduct that blocks lower-cost generic drugs from entering the market, and would reward manufacturers for challenging weak patents and bringing new generic drugs to market.

“The further left you go with drug pricing bills, it just means it’s only going to be a House-only bill and a Democrat-only bill,” Brindisi said at the time.

He also said he’s communicated that message to “to leadership and anyone who will listen around here.”

Of course, any action on prescription drug prices by the 116th Congress, will have to occur against the backdrop of impeachment and the looming presidential campaign.

Despites the odds against being able to reach both bipartisan and bicameral consensus on the issue, Brindisi said he is unbowed.

“I do think it is possible [to get this done],” he said. “Bringing down the cost of prescription drugs is an issue that goes beyond partisan politics. It might take a grand compromise between the House, the Senate, and the President, but the American people want this to get done and every elected official should be listening to their constituents.”

As for timing, Brindisi added confidently “there’s always time to get good, common-sense legislation done.”

“The simple fact is, Congress needs to act and work together to bring down costs. Bringing down the cost of prescription drugs is good policy which makes for good politics,” he said.

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