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Sanders Amendement - Text, Debate and Vote
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- Subject: Sanders Amendement - Text, Debate and Vote
- From: James Love <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 10:47:16 -0400 (EDT)
The following is an excerpt from the July 11, 1996 Congressional Record.
It is the text of the Sanders Amendment on restoring the reasonable
pricing clause, followed by the debate, and the vote. As noted earlier,
the amendment was defeated 180 to 242, but the 180 ayes were up from the
previous 141, last august. An example of the increasing support for the
amendment is found in the comments by Rep. ROHRABACHER, a conservative
republican from California. jamie
Amendment Offered by Mr. SANDERS
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Sanders: At the end of the bill,
insert after the last section (preceding the short title) the
following new section:
Sec. . (a) Limitation on Use of Funds for Agreements for
Department of Drugs.--None of the funds made available in
this Act may be used by the Secretary of Health and Human
Services to enter into--
(1) an agreement on the conveyance or licensing of a patent
for a drug, or another exclusive right to a drug;
(2) an agreement on the use of information derived from
animal tests or human clinical trials conducted by the
Department of Health and Human Services on a drug, including
an agreement under which such information is provided by the
Department of Health and Human Services to another on an
exclusive basis; or
(3) a cooperative research and development agreement under
section 12 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act
of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3710a) pertaining to a drug.
(b) Exceptions.--Subsection (a) shall not apply when it is
made known to the Federal official having authority to
obligate or expend the funds involved that--
(1) the sale of the drug involved is subject to a
reasonable price agreement; or
(2) a reasonable price agreement regarding the sale of such
drug is not required by the public interest.
The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the
gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders] and a Member opposed each will
control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders].
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, as many Members know, the U.S. taxpayer is the single
largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spending $33
billion in 1994 alone for biomedical and related health research.
Unfortunately, our taxpayers are unwittingly being forced to pay twice
for drugs because this Congress is deeply beholden to the very
profitable giant drug companies.
Members heard it right, our constituents are not getting a fair
return on the investment of their hard-earned money, paying twice for
pharmaceutical breakthroughs, first as taxpayers and second as
consumers. This harms consumers, and it is a form of corporate welfare
to many of the world's largest corporations.
The bottom line of this amendment is that when taxpayers spend
billions and billions of dollars in developing a new drug, the taxpayer
as a consumer should get a break and we should not be giving all of
this research over to the private industry who then sells the product
to our consumers at outrageous profits.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. SANDERS. I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, let me simply say on this side of the aisle I
will be willing to accept the gentleman's amendment. I think it is a
good public interest amendment.
Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Porter] is recognized
for 5 minutes.
Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, the gentleman is repeating his amendment that was
defeated last year on a 141-284 vote. It relates to the reasonable
pricing clause that was in effect for NIH cooperative research and
development agreements, CRADA's, and license agreements until April
This provision was originally put in place in response to public
concern about the pricing of the AIDS drug AZT, even though AZT had not
been developed through a CRADA or exclusive license. It was
controversial from the start, and NIH decided to conduct an extensive
review of the policy. They held public hearings, consulted with
scientists, patient and consumer advocates, and representatives of
academia and industry.
The director of NIH, Dr. Varmus, concluded after this review that,
and I quote. ``The pricing clause has driven industry away from
potentially beneficial scientific collaborations with Public Health
Service scientists without providing an offsetting benefit to the
The review also indicated that NIH research was adversely affected by
an inability of NIH scientists to obtain compounds from industry for
basic research purposes. No other Federal agency has a reasonable
pricing clause. No law or regulation expressly requires or permits NIH
to enforce such a provision. No comparable provision exists for NIH
extramural grantees like universities to impose price controls on the
licensees of products they develop with NIH funds.
Contrary to the impression some may have, the principal function of
NIH research is not to develop drugs. NIH supports the basic research
that is the foundation for the applied research that the drug companies
do. NIH focuses on research that is critical for eventual application,
but which is not specific enough to meet the profitability test that
private industry requires.
The drug companies focus their research on bringing products to
market and their investment is considerable. In 1994, the industry
supported almost $14 billion in health research and development, which
is more than half the entire U.S. public and private investment.
While it is appealing to think that reimposing the reasonable pricing
clause may lower health care costs and benefits to consumers, we must
face the possibility that it will drive drug companies out of their
collaborative ventures with NIH and ultimately deny patients access to
important lifesaving drugs.
I doubt that anyone in this Chamber has a detailed understanding of
the impact of this complex issue. I would like to rely on Dr. Varmus'
judgment in this matter and the decision of the Clinton administration.
I might add, I would hope that Congress does not try to intervene, and
for these reasons I must strongly oppose the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from
Florida [Mrs. Thurman].
Mrs. THURMAN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Sanders
amendment. Consider the case of levamisole. Eleven million dollars in
N.I.H. research lead to the discovery that this drug to prevent worms
in sheep could also prevent some 7,000 cancer deaths each year. No
pharmaceutical company paid for this research, the American taxpayer
did. But, what happened when a pharmaceutical company entered the
picture? A drug that costs 6 cents a dose for sheep skyrocketed to $6 a
dose for colon cancer patients.
A few years ago, the television program ``Primetime Live''
highlighted the problem of levamisole costs in the State of Florida. In
Florida, some people were so desperate for levamisole they turned to
the black market, where sheep pills are ground up into human-sized
Asked about that price differential between the sheep and human
products, the pharmaceutical executives simply said, ``A sheep farmer
probably would not pay $6 a pill,'' but, ``someone dying of cancer that
pays $1,200 for a treatment regimen, whose life is saved, is getting
one of the most cost-effective treatments they can ever get.''
Well, I resent paying for the development of a drug and then paying
100 times what a sheep farmer pays for it.
This is an outrageous abuse of public funds. Let's make sure we get
our money's worth on our investment. Support the Sanders amendment.
Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, how much time is remaining?
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Porter] has 2 minutes
remaining, and the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders] has 2\1/2\
Mr. PORTER. I have the right to close, am I correct?
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is correct.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the gentleman
from California [Mr. Rohrabacher].
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the
Sanders amendment to restore a reasonable pricing clause for drugs that
are developed at taxpayer expense. Let me make it clear, this affects,
this amendment only affects those drugs that are developed at
taxpayers' expense. It does not affect any drugs that are developed
solely by the private sector and by the pharmaceutical companies
Mr. Chairman, I am a strong supporter of taxpayer accountability.
Taxpayers who fund this biomedical research to the tune of billions of
dollars should not be forced to pay excessive prices for the drugs that
they themselves have helped develop, but that is exactly what is
Mr. Chairman, the drug companies are now free, after getting
taxpayers' money to develop their product, to gouge those very same
people 10, 20 times the cost of their own product. They charge that to
the American people who are paying for their research. The American
people end up paying twice.
Now, is that not nice? This is a corporate form of welfare, and it
has got to stop. Drug companies are making fortunes off the backs of
working people. If they developed the product themselves at their own
expense, the Government should not step in. But we have continually
said in this Congress that we want to cut down the expenses of
Government, cut down welfare. This is welfare for the rich, for the
corporations. The American people should not be insulted by being
forced to pay for the research of a company who then turns around and
gouges them for the price of the product that has been developed.
Mr. Chairman, I support the Sanders amendment.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from
Rhode Island [Mr. Kennedy].
Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from
Vermont for yielding me the time.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment is about simply fairness. It says that
when taxpayers foot the bill for research, they should not have to pay
again for it at the drug counter. We invest millions of dollars in
pharmaceutical research. More than 40 percent of all U.S. health care
research and development comes from the U.S. taxpayer.
This amendment, the Sanders amendment, says that drugs developed with
taxpayer dollars cannot be sold back to the taxpayers at excessive
prices. Without a reasonable pricing clause, the taxpayers pay to
develop the drug, only to get their pockets picked when they go to the
In the 1990's, the drug industry was the Nation's most profitable,
with an annual profit of 13.6 percent, more than triple the average of
the Fortune 500 companies. So while the argument goes that they invest
a great deal in R&D, there is plenty left over for them to give back to
the taxpayer, and that is what this amendment calls for.
Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, in closing, I just want to repeat that we have already
voted on this. It lost by a margin of better than two-to-one the last
time it was voted on.
There are times when we simply have to trust the officials that we
have chosen. The Clinton administration has chosen Dr. Varmus to head
the NIH. He
has looked into this extensively. He believes very strongly that this
amendment is ill-advised. He believes that it is counterproductive to
achieving the purpose for which it is intended, and I would simply urge
Members to listen to his professional and scientific judgment and to
reject the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the
gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders].
The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the ayes
appeared to have it.
Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 472, further proceedings
on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders]
will be postponed.
[snip, snip, snip]
amendment no. 12 offered by mr. sanders
The CHAIRMAN. The pending business is the demand for a recorded vote
on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders] on
which further proceedings were postponed on which the ayes prevailed by
The Clerk will redesignate the amendment.
The Clerk redesignated the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. A recorded vote has been demanded.
A recorded vote was ordered.
The CHAIRMAN. This is a 5-minute vote.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--ayes 180,
noes 242, not voting 11, as follows:
[Roll No. 306]
de la Garza
Johnson, E. B.
Mr. de la GARZA changed his vote from ``no'' to ``aye.''
Messrs. EHRLICH, MEEHAN, and PETE GEREN of Texas changed their vote
from ``aye'' to ``no.''
So the amendment was rejected.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
James Love / email@example.com / P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036
Voice: 202/387-8030; Fax 202/234-5176
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