Press Release

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Price Relief, Innovation, and Competition for Essential Drugs Act

For Release:


Elena Temple

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten today issued the following statement on the introduction of the Price Relief, Innovation, and Competition for Essential Drugs Act by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)—legislation to increase competition for pharmaceutical manufacturers and improve patient access to affordable prescription drugs by reducing the number of years a drug manufacturer can maintain exclusive rights to a product from the current 12 years to five years. 

"No one should have to choose between feeding their families and affording lifesaving medication, but that is exactly what happens daily in American households because of the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.

"Thankfully, this proposal will bring much-needed relief to teachers, school staff, nurses and public employees across the country who are so saddled with the high cost of medicine and general healthcare bills that they can't afford basic expenses like rent and gas. This bill also provides a lifeline to people who rely on prescription medication to keep them alive because it makes generic, more-affordable drugs broadly accessible to people who need them most, putting the needs of consumers before the bottom lines of wealthy drug companies.

"Through her work on this legislation and other measures, it is clear that Rep. Schakowsky understands American workers and their healthcare needs. She has fought for safe staffing levels for nurses and has worked to expand healthcare coverage to all; now, she and her Democratic colleagues are championing the cause of affordable prescription drugs with real, practical solutions to help everyday people."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.