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Stop Stalling Act and Creates Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. KLOBUCHAR. While we await for Senator Schumer, I want to mention just a few examples of what we are talking about here with drug prices--a woman named Paula. Paula has been prescribed a treatment for her multiple sclerosis. It costs over $5,000 a month. She has been getting copay assistance from a grant but does not know how she is going to afford it and whether she is going to be able to afford her lifesaving medication.

Julie, another example, is covered under her husband's employer plan. She currently has to pay a $500 copay for a drug that she needs--the same drug that was once offered in a generic form for $50, a fraction of the new cost. The generic drug has been discontinued, creating an impossible choice between paying $500 or not filling her prescription. Because of the high cost, she goes without this drug.

Diane--Diane has an EpiPen for bee stings and is unhappy with the high cost. She says:

Now that I am retired, it is horrific how I have to buy them in a pack of two, and they cost more than before. The prices have just skyrocketed. Every year I throw away something that is so expensive that I cannot use. It is way overpriced.

Angie, from Savage, MN, is a mother, a wife, and a teacher. In May of 2018, she was admitted to a hospital, where MRI scans showed brain lesions. She was eventually discharged from the hospital and was instructed to follow up with a neurologist. She received a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. She was prescribed a new medication that is also one of the most effective drugs available today for treating MS. Payment for the expensive drug was denied.

These are just examples of the people we see every day.

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Ms. KLOBUCHAR. I thank the Senator from Virginia for his thoughtful remarks and the Senator from Connecticut, Mr. Blumenthal, as well as Senator Smith, my colleague.

The time for action is now. We have all cited numerous examples of people who, literally, are taking drugs that, in the case of insulin, was $17 a vial and is now $1,213 a month. That is simply outrageous. We have people who can't afford drugs that they used to just take as commonplace, and there were no changes made.

So for me, a lot of this is what happens when you have monopolies, what happens when you don't have competition. So the answer is to look at all of the measures we could take to ensure that there is better price negotiation and more competition. One of them, as Senator Kaine mentioned, is Medicare negotiation, unleashing the power of 43 million Americans. That is a lot of people. Seniors are good at getting deals. That is 43 million people. Yet they are banned from negotiating with Medicare to get better deals for themselves. That should change.

We need less expensive drugs from other countries--safe drugs. That would certainly create more competition. We had bipartisan support for a proposal like that. Senator Grassley and I have the bill that would take one country, Canada. In Minnesota and in the Presiding Officer's State of North Dakota we can see Canada from our porch. The point is that we see those less expensive drugs right across the border. We should be able to have that competition.

Then, look at the CREATES Act and some of the other ways of stopping pay-for-delay and stopping, as Senator Blumenthal was describing, these patent abuses to try to make sure we have more competition. I think there is starting to be general agreement on this issue that we have to take on these pharmaceutical prices. The time for describing the problem is still here because it seems like some of our colleagues don't get it, but the time for action is certainly now.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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