Safe Medicine for All

(a penny for your life)

What:

  • Buying generic drugs saves money (90% of prescriptions, $300B/yr savings)
  • But quality is an issue – the FDA has limited staffing and many manufacturers are overseas where we have limits to access and enforcement.
  • Thousands of manufacturing plants have not been inspected for years.
  • The Covid crisis has exasperated these issues.

There are 10,000 generic drugs on the market in America and 90% of all prescriptions are filled by a generic drug. Nearly 4 billion generic prescriptions are filled every year. According to the Association for Accessible Meds, an industry group, generics bring down the cost of medicine, saving American patients an estimated $300B per year in costs, either out of pocket or through lower insurance and taxes.

Lowering the cost of medicine in the US is a critical national priority. Without generics, high drug prices threaten to crowd out funding for other priorities, bankrupt our budgets, and indebt millions of families. The industry claims it has saved nearly $2 trillion over 10 years.

But there is another side to this story to be considered. Quality matters. If the quality of the drugs that save money are less than their brand-name equivalents, then we are putting Americans at risk. Bad quality can create higher costs later and personal tragedy now.

Americans must know we have their backs. They must know there is a public guarantee of safe medicine for all.

Cause for Concern

Recent books and investigative reporting suggest that there are potentially significant quality issues in the generic drug industry. It has likely been worsened by the Covid pandemic. The FDA may not be able to measure quality with the rigor that all Americans would prefer.

Proposed: A Penny for Your Life

Actions this campaign proposes to take immediately if elected to Congress:

  • Introduce legislation to create an independent auditing/testing function for drug quality in the United States as a check and balance on the FDAs current approach.
  • Randomly select samples from around the US for selected generic drugs and have them tested for quality at independent, high-quality, private labs.
  • Fund this testing program with a ‘Penny for your life’ fee on all generic prescriptions (1 penny on 4 billion prescriptions will yield $40 million per year).
  • Create a separate, independent agency from the FDA that is administered by Congress (like the GAO and CRS) to administer this testing function as an independent check and balance on the executive branch.
  • This agency shall be small, agile, and fast. It will have no overhead, no competing priorities. It lives or dies by a single mission – ferreting out quality problems in America’s drug supply
  • It will report back quarterly to Congress on testing results and serve as a validation function for the quality of medicine in the United States regardless of source of origin.

Notes:

You’ll notice that this is not a fully rounded out healthcare policy or agenda. It’s very specific, very targeted, very actionable. What our campaign is trying to show with this proposal is that we can bring to the table very real and actionable ideas that can solve a problem (quality control) that is not being adequately addressed, that the solution won’t cost a fortune, and that it can be bipartisan in nature. This campaign can think at very big scale as well as very tactical and specific. This specific issue is real and it is important to solve and we believe this is an elegant, bipartisan solution.

Now, if you are looking for a broader statement on healthcare and where the campaign stands, I can say unequivocally that my priority as a candidate for your vote is 100% healthcare coverage for all Americans. Full stop. I can also say that for as long as I have been alive, we have failed to achieve that goal and so the answer is not about which solution will work best, but how to move the other half of the country to this point of view. That is where we have failed and that is where I will focus if elected – on the specific messages and strategies to win more people to this point of view.

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