WASHINGTON—On her 99 County Tour and in her office in Washington, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) constantly hears from Iowans about the importance of lowering health care costs. Today, Senator Ernst spoke on the Senate floor on the work she is doing to drive down the price of prescription drugs. She highlighted the stories of two Iowans struggling to keep up with their living expenses while affording their medications.
Click here or the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.
Senator Ernst had three of her bills aimed to increase competition and drive down drug prices advance through Senate committees.
See below for Senator Ernst’s full remarks:
“Mr. President, I recently received a letter from a gentleman living in Cedar Falls, Iowa who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. As I speak, he is going without his $1,450 per month Lyrica prescription in order to keep a roof over his head.
“That’s right. He must choose between making a mortgage payment and getting his prescription.
“Here’s another story a woman from Davenport, Iowa shared with me. Last October, she was able to get her three-month-supply of blood pressure medication for $17. But when she went to the pharmacy for her refill in late December, she was told the price had nearly tripled to $55.
“She wrote me and said: “Thinking this was a mistake, I refused the refill and checked online about the change in price, and found I couldn’t get it cheaper anywhere else. So I went back in ten days and thought I would just have to pay the new cost. In that time…the prescription had gone up to $130!”
“Mr. President, whether I’m talking to folks back home in my town halls and other events on my 99 County Tour, or in meetings here in DC, the cost of prescription drugs is the number one issue I hear about from Iowans.
“Every day, I hear stories just like these - about the outrageous costs associated with their prescription medications.
“For too long, hardworking Iowans have borne the brunt of skyrocketing prescription drug prices. Stories like the man from Cedar Falls and the woman from Davenport have become the norm. We’ve got to change that.
“And that’s exactly what we’re doing here in the Senate.
“We’ve been hard at work – advancing bills to drive down drug prices, increase competition, and close costly loopholes being exploited by bad actors.
“I’m proud to lead on three such bills that were recently approved in committee.
“First, I’ve teamed-up with Senator Cotton on a bill that aims to eliminate an egregious loophole in the patenting process.
“This loophole allows drug companies to take advantage of the well-intentioned concept of sovereign immunity for Native American tribes, in order to dismiss patent challenges and unfairly stifle competition.
“Our legislation would put an end to this manipulative practice and actually provide Iowans with access to cheaper options for their prescription drugs.
“That’s not all we’re doing here in the Senate to make more low-cost generic drugs available to folks in Iowa.
“We’ve also been working across the aisle on a bipartisan bill that would put a powerful check on drug companies seeking to keep generics off the market.
“The bill would empower the makers of generic drugs to file lawsuits against brand-name manufacturers if they fail to provide required resources – such as drug samples – needed for generics to clear the regulatory process. And in turn, we’d see cheaper alternatives available for folks across Iowa.
“I’m also working with my fellow Iowan, Senator Grassley, on a bill that focuses on the middle-men behind some of the prescription drug price hikes we’ve seen recently.
“The bill would direct the Federal Trade Commission to examine anti-competitive behavior in the prescription drug market.
“As mergers push drug prices higher and higher, this bill will be instrumental in helping Congress develop policies to increase competition and lower costs for both patients and taxpayers.
“Make no mistake, the rising cost of prescription drugs is an issue that significantly impacts hardworking Iowans.
“We here in Congress have a responsibility to take action, to give folks a voice, and to make sure no family is ever forced to choose between making a mortgage payment and purchasing their medications.
“And that’s just what we’re doing.
“We’ve got some great bills here in the Senate – bills from both Republicans and Democrats –that can help lower drug prices, increase competition, and close loopholes.
“Let’s build on this effort and continue working together - in a bipartisan way - to get these bills and others across the finish line and signed into law. Iowans are counting on us.”