Greg Walden on lowering drug costs: “Patients need our help”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Continuing his efforts to make health care more affordable and transparent, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today said that he is taking a patient-first approach to policies aimed at reducing prescription drug costs.
“Patients need our help to force down the price of their medical care, especially when it comes to the cost of drugs. What good is a prescription if a patient cannot afford to pay for their medicine? Drug pricing is of great concern to all Americans. It’s come up at nearly every one of the 20 town halls I’ve held this year in my district,” Walden said during an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing today.
“Blockbuster drugs come with budget-busting prices. Too often prices continue to rise, and while there are numerous reasons given, patients rely on these medications. When market forces weaken or fail, then we need to step in with federal, commonsense legislation.”
Walden has helped pass landmark legislation into law to reduce drug costs for patients, which is one of his top priorities in Congress.
Under Walden’s leadership. Congress passed into law a modernization of the Food and Drug Administration in 2017. This law aims to lower the cost of important medication and devices by streamlining the approval process for generic alternatives. In 2018, the FDA approved the most generic drugs in history due in part to new streamlined approval for generic alternatives created under Walden’s legislation.
Walden also helped pass into law legislation that bans the use of so-called “gag clauses,”which restrict a pharmacist’s ability to inform a patient that their drug would be cheaper if they paid out of pocket than through their insurance.
Walden continues to work on bipartisan solutions to improve the affordability of the entire health care system, not just prescription drug costs. Recently, Walden introduced bipartisan draft legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills.
The draft proposal, known as the No Surprises Act, will shield patients from a practice known as “surprise billing.” This occurs when patients receive costly, unexpected medical bills for emergency care or charged out-of-network rates for services within their insurance provider network.
Walden today said that while reducing drug prices is a bipartisan issue, any policy Congress considers must not inadvertently stifle innovation and the development of new cures and treatments for patients.
“We need to ensure that as we work to shine a light on how drugs come to market and are priced that we realize that the market must also be sustainable to produce the next generation of cures and treatments. We are living in a time of innovation that is producing cures for conditions we didn’t even have a name for 30 years ago,” said Walden.
“The promise of what lies ahead is truly staggering in their ability to relieve human suffering from conditions from hemophilia to sickle cell to muscular dystrophy. So, in our efforts to bring more transparency to the system, which I support, we must inherently first, do no harm.”