Aug 12, 2021

Joe Biden Drug Prices Speech Briefing Transcript August 12

Joe Biden Drug Prices Speech Briefing Transcript August 12
RevBlogTranscriptsJoe Biden TranscriptsJoe Biden Drug Prices Speech Briefing Transcript August 12

President Joe Biden spoke about lowering prescription drug prices on August 12, 2021. Read the full transcript of his speech briefing here.

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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
I know there are a lot of people out there trying to turn a public safety measure, that is children wearing masks in school so they can be safe into a political dispute. And that this isn’t about politics. This is about keeping our children safe. I saw a video and reports from Tennessee, protesters threatening doctors and nurses were before a school board making the case that to keep kids safe, there should be mandatory masks. And as they walked out, these doctors were threatened, these nurses threatened. And our healthcare workers are heroes. They were the heroes when there was no vaccine. Many of them gave their lives trying to save others. And they’re heroes again with the vaccine.

President Joe Biden: (00:50)
They’re doing their best to care for the people refusing to get vaccinated and unvaccinated folks are being hospitalized and dying as a result of not being vaccinated. To mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders who are standing up to the governor’s politicizing mask protection for our kids, thank you. Thank you as well. Thank God that we have heroes like you and I stand with you all and America should as well.

President Joe Biden: (01:20)
Now let me turn to the focus of today’s remarks. There aren’t a lot of things that almost every American can agree on, but I think it’s safe to say that all of us, whatever our background, our age or where we live can agree that prescription drug prices are outrageously expensive in America. Today, I’d like to talk about how we’re going to help millions of Americans save money and ease their burdens by lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

President Joe Biden: (01:53)
Let me start by acknowledging the groundbreaking and life-saving work that many pharmaceutical companies are doing. Look no further than the vaccines they’re manufacturing and delivering when is beat this pandemic and save lives. But we can make a distinction between developing these breakthroughs and jacking up prices on a range of medications for a range of everyday diseases and conditions. Right now, right here in America, we pay the highest prescription drug costs of any developed nation in the world.

President Joe Biden: (02:28)
Let me say that again, of any developed nation in the world. About two to three times what other countries pay. Last week in the Oval Office, I hosted a small business owner named Gail from Denver. She’s 60-years-old. When she was 11, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes for nearly 50 years she’s had to take insulin to stay alive, but you know what she told me? She said she doesn’t worry about becoming blind or her blood sugar dropping dangerously low. The natural worries of anyone has type 1 diabetes. She worries about being able to pay for her prescription drugs.

President Joe Biden: (03:14)
During our conversation, she pulled out a vial of insulin from her bag. In 2001, she said that single vial costs $32 a bottle. Today, that exact same bottle with the same exact formula, no changes costs $280 per bottle. Gail and her husband work hard. They spend wisely. Because their cost of her prescription drugs, her husband may not be able to retire. They drive same car she said she’s had for 17 years unable to afford repairs or a new one.

President Joe Biden: (03:56)
Gail’s is not alone. It’s estimated the more than 34 million Americans, 10% of the population of the United States have diabetes, including more than 1.5 million of those who have type 1 diabetes. And outrageous costs affecting everyone across the board, spanning every kind of condition to disease is similar. I remember what it was like for my mom as she got older and moved in with us. Her prescription drugs were so expensive that it took me, my two brothers and my sister, three siblings chipping in to cover the thousands of dollars in monthly cost that she had to exhaust rather than exhaust the little savings she had for her prescription drugs.

President Joe Biden: (04:41)
It’s personal to so many of us and so many of you. For more than one million Americans living with multiple sclerosis, one common drug for that disease costs $7,100 per month. The price has gone up 1000% over the last 20 years without any change in the drug. For more than one million people, rheumatoid arthritis, a common prescription drug used to cost about $1,350 per month. That was when it was introduced back in 2003. Today, the same drug cost $7,700 per month over five times more expensive without any change.

President Joe Biden: (05:32)
For years, price of many prescription drugs has dramatically outpaced inflation. These prices have put the squeeze on too many families. It stripped them of their dignity. They’ve been forced. They force people into terrible choices between maintaining their health, paying the rent or the mortgage, putting food on the table. I mean, literally and that’s the case a lot of working families and seniors even if you can get the care you need.

President Joe Biden: (06:03)
But today, working families and too many seniors are struggling to make it work. Today, one in four Americans who take prescription drugs struggle to afford them. Nearly 30% has skipped doses, cut pills in half, or because they can’t afford the cost. We have to change this and we can. My administration has already taken significant steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Last month, I signed an executive order that has the effect of improving competition in the economy, which resulted in lower prescription drug costs.

President Joe Biden: (06:47)
Right now, when a drug company seeks permission from the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration for a certain drug to get a patent it’s allowed for the patent. It’s allowed to exclusively sell that drug without competition for up to 12 years. When that time period expires, other companies can come along, make the same exact drug and sell it cheaper. It’s called a generic drug. But unfortunately it often takes a long time, years and years for this to happen. That’s why I’m instructed the Federal Drug Administration to get these genetic drugs to consumers faster. It’s going to increase competition, lower drug prices for everyone.

President Joe Biden: (07:34)
Research shows the prices could be cut by 25 to 33% and save $54 billion for consumers over the next 10 years. It makes a gigantic difference for an average family. Secondly, I’ve ordered the FDA to work with states and tribes to import prescription drugs safely from Canada. These are drugs that the FDA has determined are safe and they’re going to make sure the drugs get to the states and tribes safely.

President Joe Biden: (08:09)
Colorado estimates that their version of the drug importation program is going to save 35 million to $60 million a year for people in Colorado, cutting the prices down by more than 60% for the cost of the same drug. These things, by the way, the company that’s making these drugs and charging exorbitant prices are selling the same drug in other countries at considerably lower prices. It’s not like there’s another company always making this drug, same outfit.

President Joe Biden: (08:50)
These things by themselves will be a great help, but to really solve problem, we need Congress to act. That’s what my Build Back Better Plan will do. There’s long been talk, I mean a long time since the days when I was back in the Senate about giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. Now Medicare takes care of millions of people. Medicare, my plan is going to go allow that. Every other type of health care service from the cost of a doctor’s or how much the doctor can charge for a visit, hospital visit, crutches, wheelchairs. Medicare is allowed to negotiate and say, “We’ll pay no more from the Medicare than the following amount for those things.”

President Joe Biden: (09:37)
As I said before, the only thing Medicare is not allowed to negotiate are prices for prescription drugs. My plan gets rid of that prohibition. The proposal I made while I was running for president is that Medicare should negotiate drug prices across the board. Congress is currently debating a more narrow vision letting Medicare negotiate some of the most expensive drugs particularly from those companies that don’t face competition for that drug. We’re going to provide the competition through. We’re going to provide that competition through Medicare. Medicare is going to negotiate a fair price.

President Joe Biden: (10:21)
Right now, drug companies will set a price at whatever the market will bear. Some of you may remember when I had the moonshot going when I was vice president. I met with 12 drug companies and I agreed I would not name them at the time. It was just a private discussion. I said, “If anyone even came up with a drug that cured a particular type of cancer, what do you think you should be able to charge for it?” They said, “Whatever the market would bear. Whatever it will bear.”

President Joe Biden: (10:53)
But that often means a significant number of people can’t afford it under any circumstance and they’ll die without it. That’s unacceptable. What we’re proposing as it will negotiate with a company based on a fair price. One that reflects the cost of the research and development and the need providing for a significant profit, but that’s still affordable for consumers. And by the way, if there was a significant amount that’s invested in it and a fair price is very expensive, we’re going to have to figure out how society can provide for that drug that will save lives if the people can’t afford it.

President Joe Biden: (11:46)
But that’s what we’re trying to get done and has to get done. But not only that my plan caps the amount that seniors have to spend on prescription drugs each year at no more than about $3,000 a year. Our plan says the drug companies can only raise prices based on the rate of inflation after it’s determine how much they’ve invested and what a healthy profit constitutes. Studies have shown that if we do this, we can save seniors thousands of dollars a year.

President Joe Biden: (12:21)
For example, an expensive drug for cancer called multiple myeloma can cost $20,000 a month, $20,000 a month. People who need that drug pay an average of $1,300 a month out-of-pocket even with Medicare. What I’m proposing would reduce the total cost by thousands of dollars and seniors would not pay more than $250 a month on average. That’d be a game changer. And by the way, it isn’t just seniors who will benefit. This would lower prescription drug prices for all Americans and here’s how.

President Joe Biden: (13:03)
If Medicare prices are available to private insurance companies, then it would reduce the cost of employer-based health insurance coverage. What that means is once Medicare negotiates a lower drug price for its beneficiaries, an employer-based plan shouldn’t have to keep paying whatever the drug company demands. They should get access to the same drug and the same price as Medicare. So if you’re not on Medicare, you can get your prescriptions drugs through your employer-based plan. Your plan should pay the same price for that drug as someone on Medicare. It means the drug companies would have to sell their drugs to all distributors at the Medicare price or face up to a 95% excise tax.

President Joe Biden: (13:54)
The savings for employers and employees would be billions of dollars a year. We don’t have to stop there. My plan expands Medicare by adding dental, vision and hearing, which would make a world of difference for millions of people. We can take some of that savings create it when Medicare is no longer forced to overpay prescription drugs and use it to pay for these additional benefits and reduced premiums, improve access for people with coverage on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

President Joe Biden: (14:31)
At the same time, we can invest in medical breakthroughs that will also reduce the costs and save lives. Right now when Americans overpay for prescription drugs, too many pharmaceutical companies don’t use the profit nearly enough to innovate or research. Too many companies use it to buy back own stock and slate their worth, drive up CEO salaries and compensation, and find ways to box out the competition. In fact, according to one study from 2016 to 2020, pharmaceutical companies spent $577 billion in stock buybacks and dividends. 56 billion more than what they spent on all research and development over that same period of time.

President Joe Biden: (15:22)
Look, folks, they should be able to make a significant profit. Why should we be paying two or three times what every other country in the world is paying for a similar drug? There’s so much we can do. For example, at the Defense Department, those of you cover the defense area. There’s something called DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency set up exclusively within the Defense Department to seek out the cutting edge research projects that enhance our national security. An outfit that came up with the internet, GPS and a lot of stuff, a lot of things.

President Joe Biden: (16:11)
I’m proposing we do a similar thing. I propose we spend $6.5 billion for a similar agency within the National Institute of Health, the NIH called Advanced Research Project Agency, ARPAH like DARPA to helps speed cutting edge research and how to detect, treat, and cure diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer. It’s personal to so many people out there and we can do this. I’m not criticizing companies that aren’t prepared to spend billions of dollars on certain projects to research. I get it. But if they’re not, we should to make sure that Americans are covered.

President Joe Biden: (17:03)
There’s one other big thing that will help millions of Americans afford their prescription drug drugs, getting them affordable health insurance. Everyone’s worried about getting health insurance during the pandemic, there’s help today. For those who get their insurance through the Affordable Care Act, we’re covering more people with better benefits and where the premium is 40% lower. That means the average premium has been cut from $104 a month to $62 a month. $62 a month for quality health insurance that covers doctor’s visits, hospital care, prescription drugs. In fact, one third of the consumers are buying plans through the Affordable Care Act for less than $10 a month.

President Joe Biden: (18:01)
Earlier this week I announced that more than 2,500,000 Americans have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act since I called for a special enrollment period during this pandemic. Folks, if you don’t have insurance, you can still sign up on the Affordable Care Act through Sunday, August the 15th. Just go to today and get covered. All those folks expressing concern about rising costs for families, I urge you to support these basic reforms that will allow drug companies still make billions of dollars as they have a right to do. We’ll address one of the largest out-of-pocket expenses that families face, prescription drugs. We can do this.

President Joe Biden: (18:51)
Let me close with this. I’ve long said healthcare should be a right, not a privilege in this country. With my Build Back Better Plan, we have an opportunity to come together and get us even closer to that reality. And the American people support it by overwhelming bipartisan margins. This isn’t a partisan issue. Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer. They don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican. This is about whether or not you and your loved ones can afford prescription drugs you need.

President Joe Biden: (19:31)
I look forward to Congress getting this done. And there’s another area and this is another area where we can come together and make a difference in people’s lives. Thank you. May God bless you. May God protect our troops. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (19:53)
[crosstalk 00:19:53]. [inaudible 00:19:53] Are you planning to evacuate Americans from the Embassy?

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