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Welch Unveils Four-Point Prescription Drug Affordability Agenda

January 30, 2017
Press Release
Joined at Burlington roundtable by patients and representatives of insurers and providers

BURLINGTON, Vt.— This morning, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) outlined his legislative agenda in the new Congress to make prescription drugs more affordable for consumers, taxpayers, and businesses providing health coverage to employees.  Welch unveiled his four-point initiative at an affordable medicine roundtable he convened at the Community Health Centers of Burlington.

“Prescription drugs cure illnesses, relieve pain and save lives.  But skyrocketing prices are putting them out of reach for consumers and overcharging taxpayers and businesses,” Rep. Welch said. “The market is broken. Patients are getting hammered and hospitals are getting squeezed. If we don’t take commonsense steps to make drugs more affordable, our health care system could collapse under the weight of prescription drug prices that nobody can pay.”

Rep. Welch unveiled the following agenda for the 115th Congress: 

1)      Require the federal government to use its purchasing power in the Medicare program to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

In 2003, Congress prohibited the federal government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for Medicare prescription drugs resulting in taxpayers and seniors paying retail prices for wholesale purchases. Rep. Welch has introduced legislation (H.R. 242, the Medicare Prescription Drug Negotiation Act) to require the federal government to use its purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for seniors and taxpayers. President Trump endorsed the proposal during his campaign and subsequently expressed his intent to follow through on his promise as President.

2)      Close the ‘orphan drug’ loophole

Rep. Welch will soon reintroduce the Closing Loopholes for Orphan Drugs Act which would close the ‘orphan drug’ loophole which Big Pharma is using to raise the price of prescription drugs for hospitals. Welch’s legislation will limit the ‘orphan drug’ exclusion to apply only to drugs used to treat rare conditions or diseases.

3)      Increase consumer access to more affordable generic drugs

Welch will introduce soon legislation to stop Big Pharma’s manipulation of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug safety regulations to block the production of generic alternatives to brand name medicines. Rep. Welch will soon reintroduce the Fair Access for Safe and Timely (FAST) Generics Act to increase consumer access to generic drugs, boost market competition, and save consumers money.

4)      Put spotlight on effectiveness of prescription drugs

Rep. Welch will soon introduce legislation to require federal regulators to transparently compare the effectiveness of new medications with products already on the market. His initiative will ensure the price of prescription drugs reflect their effectiveness for consumers. 

Welch is the founder and co-chair of the bipartisan House Affordable Medicine Caucus, the co-chair of the Prescription Drug Task of the House Democratic Caucus, and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over prescription drug pricing.