Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

An intensive care nurse treat a patient at intensive care unit at the Klinikum Bad Hersfeld hospital on March 20, 2020 in Bad Hersfeld, Germany.

An intensive care nurse treat a patient at intensive care unit at the Klinikum Bad Hersfeld hospital on March 20, 2020 in Bad Hersfeld, Germany. (Photo: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

House Dems Introduce Bill to Prevent Big Pharma Price-Gouging During Covid-19 Pandemic

The legislation was applauded as necessary to combat Trump's "sycophancy to drug corporations" that is "endangering the nation's pandemic response."

Jessica Corbett

On the heels of polling that showed 88% of Americans worry Big Pharma will exploit the ongoing pandemic to hike drug prices, House Democrats on Monday introduced two bipartisan bills to prevent price-gouging for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines and to strengthen oversight of federal spending on coronavirus research and development.

"Promoting transparency and reasonable pricing of Covid-19 treatments and vaccines is a life-and-death matter."
—Robert Weissman, Public Citizen

Public Citizen president Robert Weissman welcomed the legislation in a statement. "This is about way more than ensuring taxpayers aren't ripped off, as important as that objective is," he declared. "Promoting transparency and reasonable pricing of Covid-19 treatments and vaccines is a life-and-death matter."

"President Donald Trump's sycophancy to drug corporations is endangering the nation's pandemic response," Weissman warned. "Although public investments are driving drug and vaccine development, the Trump administration is permitting drug companies to retain monopoly control over the drugs and vaccines, including those still under development."

"The administration is refusing to use its existing authorities to enable knowledge sharing and generic competition. Nor is the administration seeking enhanced powers from Congress," he added. "The certain result will be profiteering, rationing, and inadequate supplies of the medicines and vaccines desperately needed to treat and eliminate the virus."

The Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Price-gouging (MMAPPP) Act introduced Monday is sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a senior chief deputy whip and chair of the House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee. Schakowsky said that "we have good reason to be skeptical about the role of the pharmaceutical industry."

"Well before this pandemic, we saw price gouging that cost lives. Now, during a global health crisis, many pharmaceutical companies will see another opportunity to benefit themselves by 'pandemic profiteering.' That cannot stand," she said. "Congress must guarantee affordable Covid-19 drugs, eliminate monopolies on these drugs, and ensure transparency for taxpayers who developed them."

As a statement from the congresswoman's office outlined, the MMAPPP Act would prevent price-gouging by:

  • Prohibiting pharmaceutical monopolies on new, taxpayer-funded Covid-19 drugs in order to ensure universal access to these drugs;
  • Requiring the federal government to mandate reasonable, affordable pricing of any new, taxpayer-funded Covid-19 drug used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat Covid-19
  • Ensuring transparency and requiring manufacturers to publicly report a specific breakdown of total expenditures on any Covid-19 drug, including what percentage of those expenditures were derived from federal funds; and
  • Preventing excessive pricing of drug used to treat any disease that causes a public health emergency by waiving exclusive licenses and compensating with a reasonable royalty.

The second bill, the Taxpayer Research and Coronavirus Knowledge (TRACK) Act, would establish a single database for Covid-19 research and development detailing all the financial and non-financial federal support for pharmaceutical companies, information on clinical trials and patents, and the full terms of deals between the government and drug manufacturers.

"Transparency and accountability are always vital tonics to keep democracy healthy," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), the bill's lead sponsor and chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. "Crafting a new, strong oversight tool, the TRACK Act reveals to taxpayers how billions of public funds are being used—information any private investor would demand."

"Transparency and accountability are always vital tonics to keep democracy healthy."
—Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Both pieces of legislation are backed by Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) as well as Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Francis Rooney (R-Fla.). DeLauro is chair of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Because of that role, DeLauro said, "I am all deeply aware of just how much money the U.S. government invests in the critical, life-saving biomedical research in this country, and we have allowed the pharmaceutical industry to take advantage of this investment, and price-gouge taxpayers. Getting any sort of information from this administration has been virtually impossible during this pandemic, and taxpayers have a right to know how their dollars are being spent."

The MMAPPP Act is endorsed by dozens of organizations, including the Center for Popular Democracy Action, Oxfam America, and Peoples Action. Supporters of the TRACK Act include AARP, Project on Government Oversight, and Communication Workers of America. Some groups—such as American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Tax Fairness, Indivisible, MomsRising, Public Citizen, and Social Security Works—support both.

"The legislative proposals from Reps. Schakowsky and Doggett prioritize public health over Big Pharma's profits," said Weissman. "Public Citizen thanks Schakowsky and Doggett for their leadership and urges immediate passage of these bills."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·


Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo