Johnson Offers Legislation In The US House To Curtail Prescription Drug Prices

(WNAX) — While the Senate is focused on the impeachment trial, the House is attempting to work through other legislative issues. South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson says there is interest in doing something about the high cost of prescription drugs…

“I actually think there is the potential…it’s an election year so I wouldn’t put it any higher than 40%, but I think there’s a 40% chance that we do find a bi-partisan way forward on prescription drugs. The reality is American’s pay a lot more than Europeans do. Now we get some value for that, if you’re an older gentleman, over 50 in America and you get cancer, your survival rate is 46% higher in America, than Europe so it’s not like we don’t get anything for what we pay.”

Johnson says the U-S is paying for most drug development costs worldwide…

“But for too long we have let Europe be a, in essence, free riders, forcing Americans to pay for all the research and development costs and for all the profit for these pharmaceutical companies. Now profit is not a dirty word in my mind and we want to make sure that they make money, cause that’s what causes them to invest in new cures. It takes a billion dollars on average to get a new drug to market. Only one out of 12 that are invested in even get to market, so this is a tough game to be in and people’s lives are at stake.”

Johnson says another reason prices are so high is because drug companies can halt the distribution of generic drugs…

“But there are things that can happen in the pharmaceutical industry today that are illegal in any other industry. If you are an incumbent drug manufacturer today, you can pay a generic competitor to stay off the market. That is called Pay for Delay. It is indefensible. You couldn’t do that if you were a gas station owner, or the maker of Tootie Rolls or the maker of a vehicle. You can’t pay your competitors to leave you a lone. Yet H-R-19, the bill I introduced, would say those agreements are not lawful.”

Johnson says Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a competing prescription drug bill that he can’t support.