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Walden Offers Measure to Protect Development of COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines


Washington D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) offered a Motion to Recommit (MTR) before the House vote on H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act. The MTR would prevent H.R. 1425 from upending the progress being made in the development of COVID-19 therapies.

Click here or the image above to watch Republican Leader Walden’s remarks.

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

This motion, should it be adopted, would prevent this bill from upending the progress being made in the development of Coronavirus therapies.

It simply states that this legislation cannot take effect unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) certifies that no provision will adversely impact the research, development, or approval of any drug intended to treat or prevent COVID-19.

The majority – with a straight face – has come to the floor today to move a bill that would do grave damage to medical innovation. They are doing this at a time when our country—indeed the whole world–is pinning hopes for COVID-19 treatments and cures on these same innovators the Democrats punish under this bill. The Democrats socialist drug pricing plans will scare off research into the areas we need it the most. This scheme is legislative malpractice, it will cost us cures and new medicines.

Our communities continue to be savaged by the coronavirus. This invisible enemy has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and destroyed the livelihoods of countless more. The bill before us further pulls Americans down a path of despair – however, Republicans, through this Motion to Recommit, will try to correct this.

In the wake of this public health crisis, the medical innovators have worked at unprecedented speed to develop safe and effective products so that we may safely begin to open our country back up and eventually return to our normal lives.

We have seen public-private partnerships to a degree never seen before— private companies are joining forces with competitors, government agencies, and nonprofits—and taken on substantial financial risk, in an effort to bring safe and effective vaccines and treatments to patients as quickly as possible.

But now Democrats, with passage of this bill, want to gut the progress that has been made.

We already know that government price setting will result in less pharmaceutical research and development (R&D), meaning fewer treatments and cures for patients.

We know this because House Democrats voted to impose dangerous price controls with the passage of H.R. 3 last year. Then, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that H.R. 3 would result in lower spending on R&D and thus reduce the number of new drugs introduced to the market. Now the Democrats want to play this game again in the midst of a pandemic – at a time when we need new treatments and cures more than ever.

The majority ignores how expensive it is to bring a new medicine from the lab bench to pharmacy shelves – costs range from $648 million on the low end, to over $2.5 billion, depending on study methodology.

The science is complicated, drug development is difficult, and failure is the most common result. The vast majority of preclinical programs never advance to human studies; and less than 10 percent of drugs entering clinical trials ever receive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

We don’t just need R&D to treat COVID-19, we also need it to safely reopen our economy and get Americans back to work.

What is the real agenda of the majority? Is it ending surprise medical bills? No. Is it lowering prescription drug costs? No. Is it capping out of pocket costs for seniors? No. Is it stabilizing markets affected by COVID-19? No.

The majority’s agenda is just partisan games with no consideration for what Americans want, need, or deserve. They don’t care about finding bipartisan solutions. Most of them can’t even be bothered to show up for work – instead the majority is in full election mode.

This bill undermines the important role of private-sector R&D in the United States at a time when we are experiencing, in real-time, how incredibly important that investment is to public health.

I urge a yes vote on the motion to recommit and I yield back.

Health (116th Congress)