Montesano Calls for Feds to Crack Down on Big Pharma

A legislative column from Assemblyman Michael Montesano (R,C,I-Glen Head)

For far too long, the pharmaceutical companies in America have taken advantage of our country’s generous patent laws to make substantial windfalls. Exorbitant drug prices have only continued to get worse, with some cancer treatments costing more than $100,000 and a single pill to combat Hepatitis C costing $1,000. Drug manufacturers are typically given patents, usually lasting several years, to compensate them for all the hard work, money and research put into discovering new drugs. However, this has led to the exorbitant prices companies are charging, rather than the cost of actual production of the drugs. This is taking particular advantage of those with severe illnesses who have pain, suffering or death as alternatives.

For this reason, I am encouraging the federal government to exercise its authority by using 28 U.S.C. Section 1498 which allows the government to manufacture any patented product, providing what is considered “reasonable” compensation to the original holder of the patent. I am pushing for this in particular for insulin, anti-rejection drugs for organ donors, and other essential, life sustaining drugs or treatments. There is no need to add high prices to the suffering from such severe illnesses, diseases or pain.

I am not opposed to pharmaceutical companies from making money. They do deserve to be compensated for the time, money and research put into discovering new life-saving drugs, but sometimes such research is funded by federal grants, so I believe the government should exercise this law within reason. There needs to be a balance between sustaining these companies and encouraging new research and sustaining the lives of American citizens.

Moving forward, I will be reaching out to the New York State Congressional Delegation concerning this urgent matter and encourage my colleagues in the Assembly, Senate and constituents to do the same by writing to their congressional representatives. In addition to this, I will be reaching out to President Trump to call upon him to exercise Section 1498, which I hope he will do considering his previous platform regarding using Medicare’s purchasing power in an effort to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices. This is an issue which can very easily be addressed and should be done immediately.