Lawmakers push COVID-19 bills to prevent price gouging, track federal funds used to discover drugs

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced a pair of bills Monday that would prohibit drug makers from price gouging and also require all taxpayer-funded COVID-19 research to be recorded in a federal database.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced a pair of bills Monday that would prohibit drug makers from price gouging and also require all taxpayer-funded COVID-19 research to be recorded in a federal database. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified interest in the ability of Americans to afford any useful treatments and has convinced some lawmakers that legislation is needed to ensure accessibility. "We have good reason to be skeptical about the role of the pharmaceutical industry. Well before this pandemic, we saw price gouging that cost lives. Now, during a global health crisis, many pharmaceutical companies will see another opportunity to benefit themselves by ‘pandemic profiteering.’ That cannot stand," said Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a co-sponsor of the new legislation. One bill would prohibit drug makers from gaining monopolies on new, taxpayer-funded COVID-19 drugs; require the federal government to mandate affordable pricing of new, taxpayer-funded COVID-19 drugs; require drug makers to publicly report expenses for making a COVID-19 drug, including contributions from federal funds; and waive exclusive licenses on any drug for treating a public health emergency. The other bill would allow Americans to monitor tax dollars used by federal agencies to research COVID-19 medical products by creating a single database that would include all financial and non-financial federal support provided to drug makers, along with associated clinical trial data, patent information, and the full terms of agreements made between the federal government and manufacturers.