Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 2883, the Stop Stalling Access to Affordable Medications Act
Washington, September 29, 2021
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 2883, the Stop Stalling Access to Affordable Medications Act:
"Today, one quarter of Americans report that it is difficult to afford their medicines. In fact, exorbitant medical bills are one of the major reasons Americans seek bankruptcy relief.
"It is painfully clear, however, that the soaring cost of health care is not just bad for Americans’ pocketbooks, it is also bad for the health and well-being of American families.
"As I have said before, it is unacceptable that many seniors cannot afford the arthritis medication they need to perform everyday tasks, such as buttoning their coats or opening a jar, without excruciating pain.
"It is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of cancer patients are reportedly delaying lifesaving care, cutting their pills in half, or skipping treatment entirely due to high drug prices.
"And it is unacceptable that those suffering from diabetes must worry about the life-threatening consequences of not being able to afford insulin because of its exorbitant cost.
"These trends have only worsened as a result of the pandemic, which has wrought tremendous hardship in our communities.
"As the Biden Administration recently noted, 'These high prices are in part the result of lack of competition among drug manufacturers. The largest pharmaceutical companies are able to wield their market power to reap average annual profits of 15-20%, as compared to average annual profits of 4-9% for the largest non-drug companies.'
"It is time for this to change.
"Today, the Committee will tackle this crisis by considering a package of bipartisan legislation that will lower drug prices by prohibiting anti-competitive tactics that block or delay access to safe and affordable medications.
"The first of these bills is H.R. 2883, the 'Stop Stalling Access to Affordable Medications Act,' bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Ken Buck to prohibit the abuse of citizen petitions by branded-drug companies to keep lower-cost generic competitors off the market.
"The citizen petition process provides an avenue for the public to raise legitimate scientific and health concerns about drugs under review by the Food and Drug Administration.
"But instead of serving this important function, this process has often been misused by brand-name drug manufacturers to stifle competition from generics and biosimilars.
"These companies bombard the FDA with sham petitions, lacking any scientific or health-related basis, solely to flood the agency with paperwork to grind the approval process to a halt.
"The 'Stop Stalling Access to Affordable Medications Act' will help put an end to these abusive and anticompetitive practices. The bill explicitly provides that the submission of a sham petition to prevent or delay entry of a generic or biosimilar competitor is illegal under antitrust law. It also gives the Federal Trade Commission authority to seek a civil penalty and other appropriate relief in response to the filing of sham petitions by drug manufacturers.
"Importantly, this measure applies only to petitions that are used for anti-competitive purposes as a pretext for attempting to interfere with the approval of a competing drug. In doing so, the bill carefully adheres to existing case law and constitutional principles.
"This legislation strikes an appropriate balance that will help lower the cost of prescription drug prices by preventing unnecessary delays in the approval of lower-cost generic competitors while preserving the public’s right to petition the government.
"This past July, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a substantively identical bill out of Committee on a unanimous basis, and I hope this Committee will act in a similar manner today.
"I thank my colleagues—Congressman Jeffries and Subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Buck—for their leadership on this important bipartisan legislation. I also appreciate the work of Carolyn Maloney, Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, who has led a comprehensive investigation of drug pricing in her committee. The Oversight Committee’s investigation has uncovered significant, new evidence that underscores the urgent need for this legislation."I urge my colleagues to support this potentially lifesaving measure."