House Oversight Committee Chairman
Cummings said in a Jan. 30 interview that his enthusiasm comes from the fact that President Donald Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sen.
“We cannot let this moment go by, when you’ve got all of these people coming together,” Cummings said.
Cummings remarks came one day after his committee members struggled to find consensus in a hearing on drug pricing. Although the committee and witnesses discussed many potential solutions, they frequently diverged in where they would address the high cost of prescription drugs.
Cummings said he is focused on keeping the pressure on all these stakeholders in Congress and the administration, and that he plans to organize a meeting for all of them to discuss potential solutions soon.
“You’ve got a lot of Republicans that wanna see something happen. And I want to see if we can’t all get together and say, okay, well what can we agree on? And get something done,” Cummings said.
“It’s important because there’s no need for us... to be in the same book, but not on the same page,” he added.
“The tactics on how to get there would require both Republicans and Democrats to compromise from their ideological points of view to make sure that that happens, i.e., FDA regulations and fast-tracking some pharmaceuticals,” he said.
Meadows is chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Meadows said he and Cummings “can have real meaningful discussions and find areas of agreement” and that he could see the Trump administration and Cummings get on the same page for some smaller legislative areas, but not on a comprehensive approach.
Cummings noted the dire situation that patients are facing. He pointed to the the testimony of Antroinette Worsham, whose daughter died at age 22 after rationing her insulin, and whose other daughter may face the same problem.
Patients are “still trying to figure out whether they’re gonna fill a prescription or eat or pay rent or die,” Cummings said.
Cummings also said he sees the possibility of working with some of the Republican members of his committee.
Two of the members, Rep.
Common Ground on Patents
Members of the committee on both sides of the aisle pointed to patent reform and taking action against market abuses as a potential place to work together.
“One of the opportunities that I sense from both sides of the aisle is patent reform,” Rep.
The committee’s ranking Republican,
Evergreening is a practice where brand-name drug manufacturers patent slight modifications of old drugs as a new invention to prevent generic competition. Pay-for-delay settlements are legal agreements between a brand-name drug manufacturer and a generic competitor in which the generic competitor agrees to wait to market a generic drug, typically in exchange for a payment from the brand-name manufacturer.
Welch said his colleagues were “talking very sympathetically about taking action against market abuse” and he’s going to try to get some Republican cosponsors for any potential legislation. Welch wants to see some legislation introduced next, and he could be the one to present it in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is also a member.
Two Democrats on the panel, Rep.
“Next time I want those folks, the pharmaceutical executives, there to hear these stories,” Khanna said, referring to the testimony of Worsham.
“The testimony of Ms. Worsham, I’ve been thinking about that. It haunts me that $333 a month could have saved a 22-year-old’s life,” Cummings said.
“We need more testimonies like the mother. I mean, my heart broke for her,” Khanna said.
Khanna said he wasn’t concerned about more hearings slowing down legislation.
“We have to build a case and we have to explain and let the American people know why this is so pressing. I think the hearings help us build that case, and I’m confident we’re gonna have legislation this year,” he said.
—With assistance from Alex Ruoff