Target: Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and Director Francis S. Collins, National Institutes of Health
Goal: Stop price-gouging patients for drugs developed using public funds.
Drug prices are way up and are continuing to rise. While the drug industry profits, patients with painful or even life-threatening illnesses cannot afford medicine even when it is available. Each year, the U.S. invests billions of dollars of the public’s money in drug development. It is the government’s responsibility to get these drugs to the people and return their investment. And yet according to data published by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, almost one tenth of American adults don’t take their medications as prescribed because it is too expensive, and the government is doing nothing about it.
The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 gives the U.S. government the authority to ensure that when research and development of a drug has been federally funded, it can be sold at a reasonable price. If a manufacturer fails to do this, the government can authorize another manufacturer to license the drug and sell it for a more affordable amount. This should mean that when the funding for a drug’s research and development came from public money, the public can actually have realistic access to it. However, the federal government continually fails to enforce this, even for the most critical drugs.
Our tax dollars are going toward important research and development of medications that should be extremely helpful to the public. But many of the people who need these medications can’t afford them because of price-gouging. The drug industry is profiting by holding out on the public and keeping prices unrealistically high, and the government is doing nothing about it, even though they have the ability to. Sign our petition to demand that federal agencies use their power to ensure reasonable pricing of drugs.
Dear Secretary Burwell and Director Collins,
The staggeringly high cost of pharmaceuticals is a huge hardship on the public that must be remedied. The prices of drugs prevent nearly 1 in 10 American adults from taking their medications as prescribed according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, even though those same Americans’ tax dollars are being put toward medical research meant to develop those drugs and provide them to the public. The drug industry and federal policy should not be allowed to price-gouge drugs developed using public funding .
The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 stipulates that where federal money is used to support research and development of a drug, the government has the authority to make that drug available to the public on reasonable terms. However, the government has remained extremely lax in enforcing this, particularly when it comes to the “reasonable terms” condition, which based on Congressional testimony does refer to reasonable prices. The government’s narrow interpretation of the Bayh-Dole law is deeply damaging to hardworking Americans who cannot afford critical medications, and allows the drug industry to continue to reap all of the financial benefits of research that the public has helped fund.
I urge you to use your authority to reign in the astronomical price of medication and to uphold the Bayh-Dole Act. Please do not continue to allow the drug industry to take advantage of the public and withhold lifesaving drugs that the public dollar helped fund.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ano Lobb