Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Prescription pills shown with $20 bills.

Prescription pills are shown with $20 bills. (Photo: www.ccPixs.com/Flickr/cc)

Do Not 'Cave to Big Pharma': 60+ Groups Tell Schumer, Pelosi to Deliver on Drug Pricing Reform

"There are few issues of greater salience to people across this country than lowering drug prices, and few policies more commonsense and popular than Medicare drug price negotiation."

Kenny Stancil

More than 60 civil society organizations from around the United States on Wednesday urged the Democratic Party's leaders to reject the attempts of a few caucus members bankrolled by Big Pharma to dilute the Build Back Better Act's provision to empower Medicare to reduce the nation's sky-high prescription drug prices.

"Drug price negotiation has repeatedly polled as one of and often the most popular single policy in the entire Build Back Better Act and Biden agenda." 

"There are few issues of greater salience to people across this country than lowering drug prices, and few policies more commonsense and popular than Medicare drug price negotiation," Steve Knievel, an advocate for Public Citizen's Access to Medicines program, said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "know this, and it is why they have promised it for years," Knievel added. "Now it is time to deliver."

In a letter addressed to Schumer and Pelosi, the coalition of labor unions and progressive advocacy groups—including Be a Hero, Health Care Voices, National Nurses United, and Public Citizen—expresses its growing concern about recent reporting that "congressional leadership is considering excluding or significantly weakening drug price negotiation policy in the Build Back Better Act."

Although the legislative effort by congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden to strengthen the nation's relatively underdeveloped welfare state and fund climate action can be passed without GOP support through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process, it is currently being scaled back due to the intransigence of the Democratic Party's right-wingers—including Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), as well as a few lawmakers in the House, described in the letter as "out of step with the needs and demands of the American people."

More than two dozen Arizona organizations sent a separate letter on Wednesday imploring Sinema to stop obstructing her party's proposed expansion of Medicare, including its authority to negotiate lower drug prices.

The letter urging Schumer and Pelosi to not "cave to Big Pharma" notes that "drug price negotiation has repeatedly polled as one of and often the most popular single policy in the entire Build Back Better Act and Biden agenda." 

"That extraordinary support," the letter continues, "holds even after voters are presented with talking points from prescription drug corporations opposing price negotiations, including 95% of Democrats and more than 8-in-10 adults generally." 

While "Medicare drug price negotiation has been a long-standing priority" that many Democratic lawmakers campaigned on, the letter warns that "certain isolated members of Congress would rather leave your promises unfulfilled, prioritizing drug corporations' ongoing ability to price gouge and charge United States consumers 3-4 times prices paid in other wealthy countries for prescription drugs over staying true to commitments and helping patients who are struggling to afford medicines."

As Common Dreams has reported and the letter points out, corporate Democratic Reps. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), Scott Peters (Calif.), and Kurt Schrader (Ore.) "have proposed changes that would render drug price negotiations virtually meaningless, by excluding patented drugs from negotiations and removing the excise tax penalty to enforce drug corporation engagement in negotiations."

"Patented, brand-name drugs account for most of the spending on prescription drugs in Medicare and in the United States overall," the letter states, citing research from Public Citizen. "Excluding such drugs from negotiations would purposely ignore the medicines for which drug corporation price gouging is most severe, and patients most deeply harmed" by such deadly profiteering.

"Without an aggressive enforcement mechanism to compel drug corporations to engage in direct government price negotiations," the letter adds, "the policy would no longer be 'negotiation'—it would instead become a highly structured process for the United States government to beg."


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 Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·


Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

"We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed," said Greenpeace.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo