Last updated on: 6/6/2022 | Author:

Pro & Con Quotes: Should the US Government Regulate Prescription Drug Prices?

PRO (yes)

Pro 1

Nicole Rapfogel, Research Associate, and Thomas Waldrop, Policy Analyst, for Center for American Progress, stated:

“The high cost of prescription drugs is a major concern for many Americans. Nearly 9 in 10 older adults take prescription medication, yet high drug prices are leading to soaring out-of-pocket costs, dangerous drug rationing, and a depletion of limited financial resources—especially for those with fixed incomes…. In particular, the drug pricing provisions… would enable the federal government to finally negotiate drug prices—a policy supported by more than 80 percent of the public….

Congress has the opportunity to pass drug pricing legislation that would be life-changing for millions of older adults. More than 4 in 5 seniors think drug costs are unreasonable. Senators should take the overwhelmingly popular step of enabling the federal government to negotiate prices. Lowering drug prices through negotiation, inflationary rebates, and insulin and cost-sharing caps would allow people—especially those with chronic conditions and disabilities—to access the treatment they need.

Senators have the power to meaningfully lower prices for some of the nation’s most expensive drugs—drugs that treat cancer, prevent blood clots, and treat autoimmune disorders. Passing drug price negotiations and other key drug reforms is a critical step toward lowering drug costs for millions of Americans.”


Nicole Rapfogel and Thomas Waldrop, “Congress Can Act Now to Lower Drug Costs by Allowing Medicare to Negotiate Prices,”, Feb. 1, 2022

Pro 2

Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader (D-NY), stated:

“I am pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached to lower prescription drug prices for seniors and families in the Build Back Better legislation.

Fixing prescription drug pricing has consistently been a top issue for Americans year-after-year, including the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans who want to see a change because they simply cannot afford their medications.

We’ve heard this from people across the country who have serious illnesses and can’t afford their medicine. What a painstaking position to be in. It’s horrible.

Today, we have taken a massive step forward in helping alleviate that problem. By empowering Medicare to directly negotiate prices in Part B and Part D, this deal will directly reduce out-of-pocket drug spending for millions of patients every time they visit the pharmacy or doctor.

It will cap out-of-pocket spending at $2,000 per year, ending the days where a life-changing diagnosis could mean thousands upon thousands of dollars in new expenses.

And it will reform the entire industry to stop price gouging and change both drug company and health insurer incentives to make sure our country’s drug pricing system benefits patients, not corporations.”

[Editor’s Note: The Build Back Better Act was passed by the US House of Representatives on Nov. 19, 2021 and was sent to the Senate for consideration. As of Apr. 6, 2022, the Senate had not voted on the act.]


Chuck Schumer, “Schumer Remarks On Drug Price Negotiation Agreement,”, Nov. 2, 2021

Pro 3

David Blumenthal, President of the Commonwealth Fund, Mark E. Miller, Executive Vice President of Health Care of Arnold Ventures, and Lovisa Gustafsson, Vice President at the Commonwealth Fund, stated:

“Legislation giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices in the United States would make their life-saving potential immediately available to millions of Americans who cannot now afford them, thus extending lives and alleviating suffering. The pharmaceutical industry, however, has done a masterful job of arguing that these Americans must suffer in the short term since lower prices would gut long-term innovation in drug development.

This is a false choice. We need not trade the certainty of saved lives now for the possibility of saved lives in the future.

The reason: Large pharmaceutical companies are nowhere near as important to real drug innovation as they purport to be. Furthermore, smart policy changes can sustain and increase the pace of life-changing breakthroughs in biomedicine through increased funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cutting the costs and accelerating the speed of clinical trials, and reforming patent law to stop innovation-blocking abuses used by Big Pharma to prevent new drugs from entering the market.”


David Blumenthal, Mark E. Miller, and Lovisa Gustafsson, “The U.S. Can Lower Drug Prices Without Sacrificing Innovation,”, Oct. 1, 2021

Pro 4

Ezekiel Emanuel, oncologist and the Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, stated:

“America is the undisputed global leader in drug research and development, and pharmaceutical companies warn that imposing controls on drug prices — like those currently being debated in Congress — will stifle that innovation. But many Americans, including the well insured, cannot afford the innovative drugs produced by that research….

Excessively high prescription drug prices are a substantial financial burden on Americans… but they also raise insurance premiums and taxes for you and me by increasing costs for insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid. Society will pay the other $200,000 through those higher premiums and taxes….

I’m an oncologist who has seen his patients reap huge benefits from the kind of high-priced innovation drug companies love to talk about. I’m also a health-policy specialist who has looked carefully at the long-term impact of drug company prices and profits. I’m convinced that we don’t have to choose between reasonable prices and innovation. The truth is, if Congress passes legislation to give Medicare negotiating power to make drugs more affordable, we will still have robust innovation.”


Ezekiel Emanuel, “Opinion | Why We Can Have Both Innovative Drugs and Lower Drug Prices,”, Oct. 13, 2021

CON (no)

Con 1

Christopher Holt, Director of Health Care Policy, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, of the American Action Forum, stated:

“There are better ways to lower drug prices than the BBBA [Build Back Better Act].

  • Congress should discard the remainder of the BBBA and focus on pursuing bipartisan reforms to Medicare Part D, similar to the redesign included in the BBBA.
  • Legislative changes to drug rebates, like those pursued through rulemaking under the Trump Administration, would ensure that patients with high drug costs receive meaningful assistance.
  • The single best way to bring down prices is to increase supply and competition; policymakers should remove regulatory barriers to new therapies and follow-on products coming to market, while also working to ensure enforcement of laws targeting anticompetitive practices.”

Christopher Holt and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, “The Potential Impacts of the Build Back Better Act’s Drug Policies,”, Jan. 13, 2022

Con 2

Edmund F. Haislmaier, Senior Research Fellow for the Heritage Foundation, stated:

“Congressional Democrats have released their latest version of a drug-pricing proposal that would expand government’s role by setting prices for prescription drugs for the first time.

Specifically, in HR 5376 [The Build Back Better Act], the government would set prices in Medicare for a limited number of drugs that account for substantial spending in Medicare.

Such policies go in the wrong direction. They would hurt access to drugs and innovation, undermine the ability of private plans to negotiate further price discounts for enrollees, and discourage future generic drugs—which often cost less—from coming to market.

In addition, the bill’s approach would overturn a decades long bipartisan consensus that the government should create a climate for innovation and lower costs in prescription drugs—without setting prices….

A fundamentally different approach is needed.

Rather than layering on more counterproductive government regulation, Congress should address government policies driving up prescription drug costs and making it harder to get drugs to market effectively.”


Edmund F. Haislmaier, “Rx for Disaster: Democrats’ Bill Shows How Not to Get Affordable, Innovative Prescription Drugs,”, Nov. 9, 2021

Con 3

David A. Ricks, CEO of drug company, Eli Lilly and Company, stated:

“Critics argue that the United States is the only developed country where the federal government doesn’t negotiate prescription drug prices and that a 40 percent cut to the pharmaceutical industry’s size will have limited or no impact on future cures or pandemic preparedness.

If it all sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

Under the guise of Medicare “negotiations,” the US House of Representatives is considering a measure that would mandate the government to set prices on some of the most widely used drugs. These price controls would shrink the sector by 40 percent or $100 billion per year in revenue. Our entire industry invests about $100 billion per year in research and development.

Worse, government negotiation to set drug prices won’t address the root cause of the problem America’s seniors have when they buy medicine. Instead, policy makers need to focus on fixing broken health plan designs that shift too much cost to the sick in order to lower premiums for the healthy….

The most pressing needs for policy change are not federal price mandates but rather common-sense adjustments to Medicare Part D and commercial plans. If Congress focuses on capping annual drug spending for Medicare enrollees, ensuring low monthly cost sharing amounts that are predictable each month, and implementing cost-sharing based on what a health plan saved from drug company discounts — millions of patients will see an immediate and dramatic reduction in what they pay at the pharmacy counter.”


David A. Ricks, “The Risks of Government Negotiation of Drug Prices,”, Oct. 25, 2021

Con 4

Jake Novak, political and economic analyst and former CNBC TV producer, stated:

“When it comes to prescription drugs, I believe that reducing government intrusion, rather than increasing it, is the best way to get prices down and expand access to lifesaving treatments…

There are many free market other options that Big Pharma would probably support that would boost supplies of drugs and improve access to them. Chief among them is getting more drugs available over the counter.

Birth control medication and most heart disease-fighting statins are over-the-counter drugs in most of the world’s developed countries, but not the U.S. Even if making those drugs OTC doesn’t immediately drop sticker prices, at least it reduces the costs connected with having to go to the doctor every time you need a prescription.

OTC drugs also keep third-party insurance companies out the process entirely, also reducing costs and barriers to access.

The drug industry would surely like a deregulatory push when it comes to the ban on drug companies sharing information about new drugs with insurers, hospitals and private practice doctors.

That ban forces drug companies to spend a lot of money to get the word out about new drugs once they do gain approval….

Removing the ban would allow the drugmakers to provide easier to digest updates along the way, thereby reducing and spreading the costs of informing medical professionals over a longer period.”


Jake Novack, “Trump’s Losses in Drug Pricing Battle Should Be a Free Market Wake-Up Call to Him,”, July 11, 2019