How One Lawmaker Wants to Bring Down the Price of Pharmaceuticals

Democrat Lloyd Doggett says it’s time to open up patents on drugs developed with taxpayer dollars.

By Rhonda FanningMay 16, 2016 10:35 am,

You may have noticed that the price for prescriptions is headed one direction: up. Roughly a fourth of Americans say they can’t pay for the drugs they’re prescribed. And Congress does not appear to be in the mood to take action. Well, not Congress at large, perhaps.

One Texas congressman, however, has decided enough is enough on the high price of pharmaceuticals. Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett is pressing the Obama administration to break the patents of high-priced pharmaceuticals developed with taxpayer assistance.

“It is about where taxpayers actually paid for the research that leads to the pharmaceutical, and yet the pharmaceutical companies still gouge the taxpayer with these outrages prices,” Doggett says.

He says an existing law, one authored by a former Presidential candidate, hasn’t been invoked in the past, but could help license competitors to produce pharmaceuticals if they’ve been funded by the government.

“There’s an old law, actually Bob Dole was one of the authors of the law, that says if the government and the taxpayers paid for it, the government has a right to go in when certain conditions are met and license someone else to compete, in order to get out the product,” Doggett says.

He says that consumers in some countries abroad are able to get the drugs for cheaper than Americans can, even though they were developed on U.S. soil with U.S. taxpayer dollars.

“They have a particular pharmaceutical out there right now to treat prostate cancer, paid for by government research – part of it through our military – and we’re paying in America a price that is so much more than that charged in Japan and Sweden and Canada, and I just don’t think it’s right,” he says.

Doggett says price gouging comes from limited push back from legislators and regulators.

“It is happening because there’s not restraint from government,” Doggett says, “and there’s not been forceful enough response for it.”

Web post prepared by Alexandra Hart