Lloyd Doggett speaks at a Washington press conference.
San Antonio-Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett sent a letter to President Trump this week asking him to rein in the price of any coronavirus vaccine that arises from federal research.
The letter — co-written with fellow U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D.-Illinois, and signed by 46 other Democratic House members — asks Trump's to “ensure that any vaccine or treatment developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars be accessible, available and affordable.” No Republicans co-signed.
According to the letter, those goals are unattainable unless the National Institutes of Health, which funds the majority of coronavirus research, grants licenses to multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers rather than a single entity — and limits what the companies can charge.
"We should not grant any manufacturer a blank check to monopolize a coronavirus vaccine or treatment developed with public, taxpayer support," the letter states. "Without aggressive action to protect public health, we are fearful that Americans and people in lower- and middle-income countries will not be adequately protected against current and future coronavirus outbreaks."
The NIH alone has spent nearly $700 million in coronavirus R&D, including COVID-19, according to a recent Public Citizen study.
Vaccine price controls aren't a new concern for Doggett, who's advocated since 2016 that the NIH shouldn't give away taxpayer-funded research to drug companies without constraining their profit-taking. He sent a similar letter in 2017, asking that a potential Zika virus also include price controls.
This week's letter also includes a reference to Trump's often-repeated — and still undelivered — promise to hold down prescription drug prices.
"You have repeatedly called for action to lower drug prices and know that unjustifiably high drug prices are one of the most pressing public health concerns we face today," Doggett and Schakowsky write.
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