Merkley Sponsors Bill to Keep COVID-19 Vaccines Affordable

On August 5, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) announced they had introduced legislation they say will ensure that taxpayer-funded vaccines or treatments for COVID-19 will be affordable.   

If passed, the Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Price-gouging (MMAPPP) Act would prevent exclusive licensing and would require “reasonable affordable prices” for these treatments or vaccines. It would also prohibit price gouging of other drugs used to treat any  diseases that cause a public health emergency in the future.  

“The only way we’re going to beat the coronavirus is if everyone—regardless of their income, zip code, or the color of their skin—has access to the tools they need to be safe and healthy,” said Merkley. “Drug companies can’t be allowed to use this deadly pandemic as another opportunity to price-gouge Americans on life saving medications—especially not when we, American taxpayers, are funding the research that makes their products possible.”  

The Oregon Nurses Association is one of over forty health and advocacy organizations who endorsed the MMAPPP Act.   

“Now, more than ever, we need to call on the pharmaceutical industry to put people before profits,” said Oregon Nurses Association President Lynda Pond, RN. “As a nurse, I have witnessed first-hand the impact of high cost medications on low-income workers, Black Oregonians, the elderly and LGBTQ communities.  

“These are the people that frequently have to choose between food, housing and medication.  It is not right for the most disenfranchised members of our society to bear the cost of big pharma’s greed on their backs. Pharmaceutical companies need to be completely transparent about the cost and process of developing the drugs needed to treat and prevent not just COVID 19, but all future health emergencies.”   

The MMAPPP is also cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).