Schakowsky Statement On Passage Of Emergency Funding For Coronavirus

March 5, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a statement on Congress’ approval of a $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill to fully address the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect Americans from this public health crisis:

“I voted for $8.3 billion supplemental funding package that the House passed yesterday because our local health departments, hospitals, nursing homes, and public health workers need our immediate assistance to manage and save as many lives as we can.

“I am happy we have a mandate to ensure that Big Pharma must offer a ‘fair and reasonable’ price for any coronavirus diagnostics, vaccines, or treatments that they are selling to the federal government. The federal government will buy diagnostic tests and any future vaccines or treatments in bulk to ensure the uninsured and patients who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, or community health centers will be able to get tested and get treated for COVID-19.

“I am disappointed that Republicans folded to Big Pharma and prevented us from including a clause that would have prevented drug manufacturers from pricing a vaccine or treatment out of reach in the commercial market as well. I will continue to call on President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar to do the right thing: do not give drug manufacturers a blank check to monopolize a coronavirus vaccine or treatment developed with public, taxpayer support. Do not put profits over public health.”

Last week, Schakowsky led 45 of her colleagues in sending a letter to President Donald J. Trump to raise serious concerns about the affordability and accessibility of a COVID-19 vaccine or treatments. She then had the opportunity to question Azar during the Energy and Commerce COVID-19 hearing. The Secretary responded by saying, “we can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest. The priority is to get vaccines and therapeutics. Price controls won't get us there.” Following the hearing, Azar sent a letter to Schakowsky to follow up on the exchange but failed to commit to any concrete steps to assure affordability.

On Monday, Schakowsky replied to Azar’s letter to reiterate her concerns about awarding exclusive licenses for the production of a potential 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine or treatment and allowing drug manufactures to monopolize drugs that have been funded by millions of taxpayer dollars.