As millions of workers find themselves uninsured amid a global pandemic, Oregon's own U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is taking action to prevent COVID-19 related price gouging. On Thursday, Senator Merkley and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced legislation to ensure that any taxpayer-funded vaccine or treatment for coronavirus proven to be safe and effective will be accessible, affordable, and available to all individuals. The Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Price-gouging (MMAPPP) Act would prevent price gouging on any COVID-related vaccines or treatments. “
The only way we’re going to beat the coronavirus is if everyone—regardless of their income, zip code, or the color of their skin—has access to the tools they need to be safe and healthy,” said Merkley. “Drug companies can’t be allowed to use this deadly pandemic as another opportunity to price-gouge Americans on lifesaving medications—especially not when we, American taxpayers, are funding the research that makes their products possible. We do have to put the interests of the American people above pharmaceutical executives’ profits, and require that any coronavirus treatments and vaccines are affordable for all.”
Specifically, the MMAPPP Act would forbid monopolies and exclusive licensing of any taxpayer-funded COVID-19 vaccine or treatment, require reasonably affordable prices for those drugs, and improve transparency from drug manufacturers on expenditures related to COVID-19 vaccines or treatments. It would also prohibit price gouging of drugs used to treat future diseases that cause a public health emergency.
"We applaud Senator Merkley for this bipartisan legislation that seeks to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine, when it comes, will be affordable for working families.” said Graham Trainor, President, Oregon AFL-CIO. “The federal government has poured billions of dollars into new drug research through the National Institutes of Health and grants to pharmaceutical companies. In return, these companies should forgo their usual monopoly practices to make sure any vaccine or therapeutic drug developed with the aid of taxpayer dollars will be widely available for workers and their families, here in the U.S. and overseas. In a public health emergency, we must end business as usual when it comes to prescription drugs."
In addition to Merkley and Smith, the MMAPPP Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).