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Congressman Lloyd Doggett

Representing the 35th District of Texas

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Rep. Doggett Questions HHS on Trump Administration Abandoning Healthcare, Drug Pricing Promises in Budget

March 26, 2019

 

***Press Release***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 26, 2019

Contact: Kate Stotesbery

202-225-4865

 

Rep. Doggett Questions HHS on Trump Administration Abandoning Healthcare, Drug Pricing Promises in Budget

Washington, DC — Today, Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) questioned the Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan in a Budget Committee hearing, after Secretary Azar declined to testify. Rep. Doggett asked Deputy Secretary Hargan why the Trump Administration’s budget declines to invest in lowering the price of prescription drugs or empowering Medicare to negotiate, as President Trump called for when he was Candidate Trump. Specifically, Rep. Doggett asked about the overdose prevention drug naloxone and was told by the Trump Administration witness that there was no affordability problem. You can watch the exchange here, or read the excerpts below. After the hearing Rep. Doggett stated: “It is difficult to agree on how to solve the problem of high prescription drug prices when Trump’s HHS does not even acknowledge the crisis exists.”

Rep. Doggett: “I don’t see anything in this proposal that calls for the negotiation of drug prices. And I would just ask you if the Administration is abandoning candidate Trump’s promise that we bid—as he talked about it—that we negotiate drug prices in order to protect seniors and protect taxpayers?”

Rep. Doggett said, “Unless there’s negotiation, as the President himself pointed out when he was a candidate, you don’t get where we need to be.” Rep. Doggett then noted the high price of naloxone, the drug used by first responders for opioid overdoses. With an average of 115 Americans dying per day, he asked if the Administration ought to be negotiating the price of drugs used to combat this overdose crisis.

Deputy Secretary Hargan testified, “We believe that the most popular form of naloxone, which is Narcan, the nasal spray, is highly affordable. That there are other forms of naloxane that have higher prices, but we believe it is widely available to all states and first responders.” As the Congressman asked again whether the Administration truly found it affordable, he replied, “We believe it is highly affordable.”

However, first responders, cities, and states are struggling with the price of naloxone drugs and suffering from drug rationing to make ends meet. As reported by Emily Baucum with WOAI in San Antonio, “the prices of life-saving drugs like Narcan are rising.” In that report, the coordinator of the Bexar County Joint Opioid task force, T.J. Mayes, shared that “the wholesale cost of a Narcan dose is about $20, but pharmaceutical companies charge up to $140 for the life-saving spray.”

Watch Congressman Doggett and Deputy Secretary Hargan’s full exchange here:

Congressman Doggett has authored the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, which would lower drug costs and give Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices.

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