REP. JASON CROW: The fight for cheaper prescription drugs

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In the last ten years, Big Pharma has spent over $3.7 billion lobbying Congress. To put that in perspective, that is a whopping $1 billion more than any other industry. In Washington, pharmaceutical lobbyists outnumber members of the House of Representatives 3 to 1.

As a result, Big Phrama has year after year been able to stop progress on a number of pieces of legislation that would crack down on price gouging and prevent drug companies from making excessive profit on life-saving, commonly prescribed medicine, at the expense of Colorado families and seniors.

Recent reports show that uninsured diabetes patients in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District who purchase Novolog Flexpen, a popular brand of insulin, pay an average of 21 times more than they would in Australia, 14 times more than they would in the United Kingdom, and 12 times more than they would in Canada. Meanwhile, cancer drugs or treatments for diseases like ALS can cost more than $150,000 per year, a price that leaves families with the heart wrenching decision to pay for their medication or put dinner on the table. And a staggering one in five Americans skip their medication because they can’t afford it.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

No American should go bankrupt paying for the prescription drugs they need to survive. And yet, drug prices are rising faster than inflation and wages, with the average annual cost of brand-name drugs more than tripling in the past decade, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute.

In September, Congress introduced H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a multi-faceted bill  that addresses many issues in our health care system, including a bill I’m proud to co-lead: The Freedom from Price Gouging Act.

The Freedom from Price Gouging Act would require drug manufacturers to pay a fine when they increase the prices of their drugs covered under Medicare Part B, positively impacting tens of thousands of seniors in Colorado’s 6th District, and potentially saving tax-payers over $10 billion.

H.R. 3 would also ensure that yearly prescription drug out-of-pocket costs for seniors and people with disabilities are capped at $2,000, drastically improving affordability.

The numbers speak for themselves: we now know that H.R. 3 would save Medicare $345 billion over seven years. Additionally, an analysis by the federal agency, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found that H.R. 3 would save American households $158 billion over ten years through lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket spending on drugs.

As we head into open enrollment season, Coloradans will be making choices about which health plan is best for them and their families. I will continue my work in Congress to bring these bills up for a vote and lower the cost of prescription drugs for those I represent.

In the coming months, the House of Representatives will continue to consider additional legislation that will deliver on my promise to fight to lower costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care. I will continue to stand up and support legislation that makes health care more accessible, more comprehensive, and more affordable for our entire community.

Democratic Congressman Jason Crow represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District and lives in Aurora.