WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), today spoke on the Senate floor about his pieces of legislation to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs. Cassidy praised innovation in the pharmaceutical industry that has improved and saved lives, but pointed out that if a patient can’t afford the drug, it is as if the innovation never happened.
Cassidy recently introduced a package of legislation to lower prescription drug costs, focusing on increasing competition and getting rid of loopholes that prevent getting generics to market faster. Just last month, Cassidy’slegislation to lower the cost of health care passed out of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on which he is a member.
Partial transcript of speech below:
“I happen to be a doctor, and I can tell you I will approach these remarks as a fellow who has seen medicine evolve, who has seen the incredible, positive benefits of pharmaceutical innovation, but also as a doctor who sometimes saw that patients were unable to afford innovation. And the question in my mind is, how do we give the patient the power to afford these innovative medicines? Because if she cannot afford, it is as if the innovation never occurred, and for her, it is as it never did occur. So give the patient the power.
When I was in residency, if you got HIV, you died. There was no cure whatsoever. And now people live with it for decades. It is a disease you live with but do not die from, and we speak of actually now developing cures for HIV. That is the promise of a vibrant pharmaceutical industry. Lives that not only live, when otherwise they would pass away, but lives that are lived with better quality of life.
[If] there is a Bernie Sanders supporter yanking on this lapel, and a Donald Trump supporter yanking on this lapel, and they’re complaining about the same thing, they’re either talking about surprise medical bills or the high cost of drugs. It is something that touches each American, but it doesn’t have to be that.
We again need to have those drugs affordable for the patients and this is the tension: promote innovation, but ensure affordability. We have a number of solutions such as those I just mentioned in the HELP Committee, and now in the Finance Committee. Republicans have solutions.”
Watch the full speech here.