In an op-ed for Newsweek, U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Francis Rooney argue for various government reforms which would ensure affordable drugs and vaccines for COVID-19, including combating monopolies, requiring an affordable price, and mandating transparency in R&D funding.
We know drug corporations will continue to exploit opportunities to profiteer just as they have in past epidemics like HIV/AIDS, the man-made opioid crisis and chronic health diseases like diabetes. But as COVID-19 ravages the globe, we also know that any medicine or vaccine the drug corporations develop with public money is 100 percent ineffective for those who can’t afford it.
Lower drug prices should not be a partisan issue. That’s why we are introducing legislation establishing three protections against price gouging for COVID-19 vaccines, drugs or other therapeutics: an end to the exclusive monopoly control that allows select drug companies to manufacture and determine the cost of medicines; a guarantee that pharmaceutical corporations are not allowed to sell any COVID-19 vaccine, drug or therapeutic at an unreasonable price; and a requirement that manufacturers publicly report total expenditures, including actual research and development, and the percentage of those expenditures that were derived from federal funds.
We’ll keep you updated as more details are announced about the new legislation! If passed, these reforms would be significant steps towards freeing the vaccine and towards ensuring access to affordable medicines overall.