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Upton speaks on House floor in opposition of H.R. 3

Bill will slow down the ability to find cures to life-saving diseases

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Washington, December 12, 2019 | Josh Paciorek (202-225-3761) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today delivered remarks on the House floor in opposition of H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, and in support for the bipartisan alternative, H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act. As the author of the historic 21st Century Cures Act, Upton expressed his concerns with how H.R. 3 would stifle innovation, leading to fewer life-saving cures and drugs.

The CBO says 15 fewer cures could be developed because of H.R. 3, and other estimates, including from the Council of Economic Advisers, say that number is closer to 100 fewer cures.

H.R. 19 will help reduce drug costs on patients, advance cures for devastating diseases, and can pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law. 

The final vote on H.R. 3 will happen later today.

Click here to view Upton’s remarks.

Full remarks:

“Well, thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to thank the Democratic leadership for, I think, the first time this year allowing our side to actually have a substitute to a major piece of legislation. And I want to thank our leadership because of that substitute is not a partisan substitute but a bipartisan substitute. In fact, every single provision in this bill has got strong bipartisan support, which was packaged together.

Tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of President Obama's signing of 21st Century Cures, a bill that Diana DeGette and I helped shepherd through our committee on unanimous vote, and we passed here in the House 392-26. It increased NIH funding by some $45 billion over a 10-year span. It sped up the approval of drugs and devices, and just after three years, we've seen the number of cell, gene, and nucleoid therapies have more than doubled. In fact, research this last year will actually exceed $13 billion. And the FDA is predicted as approving 20 to 30 gene therapy drugs by the year 2025. That's wonderful news.

We all want to do something about drug prices, and that's what a vote for our substitute, HR 19, will do, and the president will sign that bill. But he's not going to sign this bill, HR 3, because it's going to slow down the ability to find cures that we want to find for these awful diseases.

Now, those aren't just my words. That's the CBO nonpartisan group. It's the CEA, the Council of Economic Advisers. In today's Wall Street Journal, the former director of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, writes, “This week the House will vote on H.R. 3. The price control approach would increase uncertainty and reduce returns from biotech investments, raising the cost of capital for those invaluable endeavors.” He's right on.

We want to find new cures. We want to find new technologies and to use those. We want precision medicine. I served on the Health Subcommittee for all my days on the Energy and Commerce Committee. We have seen firsthand the different families impacted by these awful diseases, whether it be Alzheimer's or sickle cell or cystic fibrosis.

Just this last week, we witnessed real advancements, we think, in pancreatic cancer, stage 3, stage 4. SMA, spinal muscular atrophy - a disease that's awful fatal by the year nine or 10 - we saw a woman who had been on a new drug for 15 days and for the first time she could actually move her neck after more than 10 years literally trapped in a wheelchair.

If we want to find the advancements and cures for these diseases, we need to pass H.R. 19. So I would urge my colleagues to vote for that substitute and get a bill to the president that actually he'll sign and we can get something done. With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.”

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