March 22, 2023

Manchin Questions HHS Secretary on Medical Supply Chain, Legislation to Combat the Drug Epidemic, Reducing Drug Prices

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on bolstering the medical supply chain, the implementation timeline for the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act, the importance of supporting the Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act and reducing drug prices.
On bolstering the medical supply chain:

“Our supply chain cannot be caught off guard again, especially for life-saving, essential medication. I was pleased to see your Department establish offices under the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness to help build out United States manufacturing and invest in long-term capabilities to better respond to emerging biological threats. Your budget request is $400 million to bolster the medical supply chain, but there has been about $10 billion approved before that. Can you tell me if there’s any money left from that, or how else the $400 million will be spent?” Senator Manchin questioned.
On implementing the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (Legacy Act):

“Senator Capito and I are on the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act and we passed this bill quite some time ago in the CARES Act in 2020. I was pleased to see the Department issue proposed regulations last fall. What is the Department's timeline to implement the final rule of the Legacy Act, to honor this young girl who lost her life to a drug overdose?”
On the importance of passing the Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act:

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve lost more Americans to drug overdoses than we have in any wars we’ve ever fought, all combined. With that being said, and with the debt we have, it’s time to take a realistic approach. The LifeBOAT Act simply says this: a penny per milligram for all manufacturers. If you think you need to put this much product in the market, then at least pay something so we can get people cured. Every penny of this would go towards treatment centers, and treatment centers could be in every part of the country… Would you all be able to support this?”
On allowing Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to set high drug prices:

“The way they are able to control and classify drugs to the highest prices because they get a better rebate – how do we allow this to happen? How do we stop it?” Senator Manchin continued. “The Inflation Reduction Act allowed us to save money by negotiating on certain drug prices and that money is helping bring down prices…How much quicker could we do this?”

A video of Senator Manchin’s questioning can be found here.