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Lankford Wants to Roll Back Government Price Controls on Prescription Drugs

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), a member of the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which plays a major role in the prescription drug pricing scheme, joined Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) to introduce the Protecting Drug Innovation Act. The bill would roll back the federal government’s authority to set and control drug prices covered by Medicare. The power to set drug prices was a key component of the Democrats’ so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” that passed without a single Republican vote.

“Prescription drug prices are too high for many critical drugs, which demonstrates the need for more competition and more options for consumers. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ new government drug price control in their so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ creates even more barriers to effectively bringing down the cost of prescriptions, particularly for senior adults on Medicare,” said Lankford. “The ongoing issues with pharmacy benefit managers, the drug pricing middlemen, were also not addressed in the Democrats’ bill. We need more drug options, not less. We need more competition, not price controls. We need innovation, not stagnation. Our bill reduces the damage done by the Democrats’ short-sighted bill, but additional reforms are desperately needed to actually bring down costs for seniors in the long term. Oklahomans deserve real reforms to make lasting impacts on the broken drug pricing system in order to bring costs down.”

“Price controls never work. Instead, they exacerbate the problems they seek to resolve. Mandating fixed prescription drug prices will ultimately result in the shortening of American lives. Instead of repeating past mistakes, it’s time we address what’s driving the cost of prescription medications and adopt a regulatory environment that works to everyone’s advantage,” said Lee.

A University of Chicago study estimates drug price controls will result in 135 fewer new drugs approved between now and 2039 and an 18.5 percent reduction in R&D investment. Similarly, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects price control provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act will lead to the introduction of 15 fewer life-saving drugs over the next 30 years. Lankford shared his concerns in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS with the establishment of a permanent government price-setting program, funded by billions of taxpayer dollars, in the partisan Inflation Reduction Act, and raising questions regarding federal health agencies’ plans for program implementation. 

Lankford has worked for years to pursue workable solutions to lower prescription drug costs. In May Lankford celebrated a huge win for Oklahoma seniors and local pharmacies as Medicare officials finalized sweeping changes to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans for seniors. Part of this now-final rule from CMS mimics plans for lowering out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries for which Lankford has advocated for several years. In January, Lankford celebrated the rule’s proposal.