House bills aim to keep COVID-19 treatments affordable, establish research database

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced two bills in the U.S. House that would prohibit drugmakers from unfairly inflating the prices of potential COVID-19 treatments or vaccines and require all taxpayer-funded COVID-19 research to be recorded in a federal database, STAT reported. 

The bills stem from concern among lawmakers that COVID-19 therapies and vaccines may be unaffordable for the general public. 

One of the bills, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., would: 

  • Prohibit drugmakers from gaining monopolies on new, taxpayer-funded COVID-19 drugs
  • Require the federal government to mandate affordable pricing for new, taxpayer-funded drugs
  • Require drugmakers to publicly report expenses for making a COVID-19 drug, including contributions from federal funds
  • Waive exclusive licenses on any drug for treating a public health emergency

The other bill, introduced by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, would create a database to allow people to monitor tax dollars used by federal agencies for COVID-19 research and to create medical products, STAT reported. The database would include:

  • All federal support provided to drugmakers, both financial and nonfinancial
  • All clinical trial data 
  • Patent information
  • Any agreements made between the federal government and drugmakers

Contracts between federal agencies and drugmakers usually can only be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, according to STAT, and can be heavily redacted, as a lot of drugmakers claim certain information is confidential and contains trade secrets. 

One or both of the bills could be included in a congressional bill on drug-pricing, STAT reported. 

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